The Sigh of the Weary

Well, it’s been quite a month. Here’s anoth­er weird post.…all my issues,with just a tiny bit of Father Michael. Late one night in July my broth­er called to tell me that he was tak­ing my moth­er to the hos­pi­tal ER.  I knew that like­ly we wouldn’t know my mother’s sta­tus for a while. I tried to sleep that night , but my head was spin­ning and I couldn’t stop think­ing and wor­ry­ing. So I lay awake and then I felt I ‘heard’ Father Michael’s voice telling me to relax and pray . And he said “I want you to just keep pray­ing ‘Into Your hands I com­mend my Spir­it’. I ques­tioned this as I asso­ci­at­ed those words with the sad moment of Christ’s death. “Oh no,” Father M said,” they are words of trust and hope! Keep say­ing them!”  I did fall asleep then and when I woke in the morn­ing those words were the first I thought. And they kept com­ing back to me and calm­ing me, all through the crazi­ness in these last six or so weeks: ultra­sounds, CTs, angiograms, arte­ri­ograms, stents, ampu­ta­tions, debride­ments, EKGs, echoes, more ampu­ta­tions and debride­ments, mild heart attack, par­a­lyzed vocal cords, men­tal con­fu­sion and per­haps a ‘lit­tle can­cer’ i.e., a spot on the lung, etc, etc. But my lit­tle prayer has kept me going, despite it all. Thanks so much Father Michael,my help­ful friend!  Thanks too, to my sis­ter and broth­er, who have shared in the med­ical excite­ment. And our hos­pi­tal saga with my moth­er con­tin­ues…

And the crazi­ness spilled over ! My niece with the MS  fell down the stairs, neces­si­tat­ing stitch­es in her chin, three inside, three out­side! My husband’s car was stolen , involved in a hit and run, and totaled.

On the bright side, we now have a ‘new’ used car. And, I may have expe­ri­enced a healing-I’ve had very painful Achilles’ injury for sev­er­al months, but in these last few days, it seems to be gone!! Being cau­tious­ly hope­ful on that.  And then last week­end, my youngest son got engaged to a love­ly young woman! God is so good!

You’ve prob­a­bly heard the say­ing “It’s not the moun­tain ahead that wears you out -it’s the grain of sand in your shoe”. I’ve always known that I was more of the ‘grain of sand in your shoe’ ilk. The lit­tle things! They bug me! It’s been a sandy jour­ney late­ly. But of course, I try to keep aware of oth­ers’ great  pain. So much unbe­liev­able suf­fer­ing is hap­pen­ing all over the world. Peo­ple are dying and cul­tures are being sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly  destroyed . Their suf­fer­ing puts my com­plaint in per­spec­tive and dwarfs it. Besides, I know I need to stop com­plain­ing if I ever expect to become a saint (per St Cather­ine of Siena, accord­ing to my pas­tor).

Amer­i­can com­pos­er Stephen Fos­ter express­es our sense of com­pas­sion for our broth­ers every­where in this song. It is almost a prayer. I place it here to remem­ber the suf­fer­ing:

And the Prayer Goes On


 Father Michael was always more than hap­py to pray. In fact, in one of the first emails I wrote to him, I asked for prayers for my niece. Emi­ly had been new­ly diag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis -just three weeks after her wed­ding. Always kind and reas­sur­ing, Father Michael wrote this back to me:

I promise to say Mass for your niece. Again, I can’t imag­ine what it is like to be so hap­py at one’s wed­ding and to have this diag­no­sis so soon after­wards. Did you see the lady with the cane giv­ing out Com­mu­nion yes­ter­day? She found out she had MS just a few weeks before her wed­ding. And that was 40 years ago. She is very hap­pi­ly mar­ried to a great and kind man.”

Father Michael con­tin­ued to pray for Emi­ly and often inquired about her MS treat­ments and gen­er­al health. Once I vis­it­ed him in the sac­risty and we just chat­ted and joked casu­al­ly. Father M then got very seri­ous and said he want­ed to ask a favor of me. I lis­tened atten­tive­ly. He told me again about Mrs. M (the lady in the quote above) and explained that he had asked her, a while back, to pray for my niece. “No names were men­tioned” he said. I grate­ful­ly expressed my thanks for the prayer.  Father Michael , smil­ing sweet­ly, said ” So I would real­ly love it , if you would start to pray for Mrs M. She’s recent­ly had some labs done and the num­bers were not good. She needs the prayer. And I thought it would be nice that you, being mem­bers of sep­a­rate fam­i­lies han­dling the same ill­ness,  would pray for each oth­er.”  Well, what could I say? “Of course I will Father M. I ‘d be hap­py to do that”.  Father Michael was so pleased.

So after that , when I’d vis­it, I’d often ask Father Michael how Mrs. M was doing. And he would be cau­tious­ly opti­mistic for the most part. He  would always thank me for my prayer. Even­tu­al­ly, Mrs. M improved quite a bit and Father Michael was very encour­aged and pleased. I then said to him a bit ten­ta­tive­ly “You know, I’m still pray­ing for her every day.” Father Michael said “Oh yes, I know you are! Thank you!” He said this to me with the biggest grin. I looked at him, thought about it and said ” I guess I will be pray­ing for Mrs. M .….always”. Father Michael said noth­ing in response,but gave me that huge grin again. I should have known I wouldn’t get off the hook! I’m think­ing Mrs M. is still pray­ing for Emi­ly, too.

Father Michael is tak­ing care of all kinds of heav­en­ly busi­ness in his new life. He wouldn’t be idle. Here on earth,still, Father’s thought­ful­ness, kind­ness  and grace live on in the prayers he request­ed of two fam­i­lies.