And the Pilgrims Came…

This was written while on retreat in Assisi, Italy.
___________________________________________________

And the Pilgrims Came…

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

Faces wreathed in wonder at your tomb, prayerful, reverential, respectful.
The young girl’s smile widened, the older woman’s face smoothed, the man’s countenance glowed.

To that Holy Place, that Sacred Ground, that Place of Silent Wonder.
A communion of souls, a self-made gentling of our armor, a slowing of our racing lives.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

The hiss of lighted candles, the crack of knees bent in homage, the murmurs of prayer.
A gathering, a fellowship, a commonality of simplicity.

The Prayer of St. Francis. Canticle of the Creatures.
Brother Sun, Sister Moon and the stars. Lady Poverty.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

One small man, bleeding the wounds of Christ, staunching our bruised souls with your love.
One small voice, deep in the wooded forest, ringing across the world to humanity.

A patched, threadbare tunic, a hair shirt, leg coverings for your stigmata,
worn sandals that flapped against the ground, mapping your mission for all to hear.

One by one, they came.
Walking, shuffling, crawling, running.
To you, St. Francis…to you.

The bells, calling us to prayer, to weep, to rejoice, to reflect.
Their echoes tolling for the souls of the lost, and for those who are found.

And the Pilgrims came…

Assisi

______________________________________

Monday Meeting — 91 Year Old Cancer Survivor Completes Marathon

marathon

It took Harriette Thompson more than seven hours to run a marathon Sunday in San Diego. But that was awfully good, considering she’s 91 and recovering from cancer.

In fact, she beat the previous record for women 90 and up by two hours and 45 minutes. She also became the second-oldest woman to complete a marathon in U.S. history.

She told the Charlotte Observer before the race that the only time she feels her age is after running a marathon.

“Lots of times, I see young girls coming in and limping, hardly able to move,” she said, “and I think, ‘Well, that’s pretty good that I don’t feel that bad.’ “

Thompson finished Sunday’s race in 7 hours, 7 minutes and 42 seconds. It was her 15th marathon in 16 years. She started running the San Diego race at age 76, missing only last year’s because of oral cancer.

Thompson has been battling skin cancer recently. She told reporters she had undergone nine radiation treatments in 11 days, the last one coming just a month before the race. She wore bandages and tights to cover wounds left by the treatment.

Thompson runs every year to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Her brother died from lymphoma in February, Runner’s World .

“Everybody in my family has died of cancer,” Thompson last week. “It’s sort of in our genes.”

Thompson is a onetime concert pianist. She says the discipline of playing has helped her running and that she sometimes keeps pace during a race by replaying pieces in her mind.

“I usually think of Chopin etudes, the ones that are technically difficult, because usually they’re pretty fast, and it stimulates me to go a little faster, and also helps pass the time,” she told WFAE.

Thompson runs, takes yoga and stretching classes and exercises on an elliptical machine. In her retirement community, according to the Observer, she’s “one of very few residents who [move] at faster than a strolling pace.”

She told reporters that if she’s alive and able to compete, she’ll run the San Diego marathon again next year.

“If I’m still here next year, I think I’ll probably be able to train better and be in better shape,” Thompson the Observer. “If I’m able, I’ll try again.”

On Monday, she was heading back to Charlotte to spend her 67th wedding anniversary with her husband, Sydnor.

______________________________________________

Source: Alan Greenblatt, NPR
______________________________________________

Thursday re-View — Voyage on a Deep Blue Sea

boat MM

Once upon a time, I was beautiful.

I was shaped by the rough-hewn hands of a carpenter, molded, planed, loved.
My grains ran through the wood, like blood vessels under skin,
and I smelled of trees deep in the forest, reaching up to the sunshine.

I was braced with metal fittings, bolted and stretched taut,
then had crevasses sealed with thick pitch.
Weather-proofed, water-proofed against the elements of a sea-faring life.

I was painted at last a soft green to match a sea of tranquility,
and I braved the ocean day to day, clear and stormy alike,
to feed the hungry my fresh catch.

I grew older and stronger through the years in my daily routine
until my owner sold me to another sailor,
who painted me a new color to match my mood and the deep blue sea.

My skin was gashed and pushed to its limits by this energetic man,
but I carried my catch none-the-less,
until I slowed down in my waning years and needed more attention.

boat I

Sold again to another poor fisherman who painted me the red of poppies,
who saw in me a new-found resilience and strength
that could only be had by years bargaining with the sea.

Until finally he moved onto a boat with lines smooth and true
that smelled like a fresh forest in the morn,
and I was left behind on a deserted stretch of beach, to question my purpose.

I was weathered and worn down by my life on the sea,
my paint faded and chipped and peeling,
my metal fittings rusted, my boards bleached, my skin scarred.

Now I brave the storms from my land-locked port
and am covered with seaweed and lichen,
kissed by the sea when the tides come in, the taste of salty tears.

I sit waiting and hoping for a visit from someone who loves the sea as much as I,
until one day I hear the shouts of children
and feel their feet bouncing upon my creaking boards.

In my mind I take them out upon the ocean,
a swash-buckling pirate roaming free upon the deep blue sea,
while in their imagination I am at once young and proof against nature.

Once again, I am beautiful.

boat II
___________________________________

Photo Credit: John Grant at Meticulous Mick

With my gratitude and blessings… ~ Theresa

___________________________________

Today’s Quote

               Rassouli          Soul Migration

Rassouli
Soul Migration

Have no fear of robbers or murderers.
They are external dangers, petty dangers.
We should fear ourselves.
Prejudices are the real robbers;
vices the real murderers.
The great dangers are within us.
Why worry about what threatens our heads or purses?
Let us think instead of what threatens our souls.

~ Victor Hugo ~
__________________________

Today’s Quote

mountain II

You cannot stay on the summit forever.
You have to come down again…
One climbs and one sees;
one descends and sees no longer,
but one has seen.
There is an art of conducting oneself…
by the memory of what one saw higher up.
When one no longer sees,
one can at least still know.

~ Rene Daumal ~

___________________________

Thursday Re-View — Of Hospitals, Loss & Love

When I worked in the Pastoral Care Department of a hospital that was designated a Level I Trauma Center (See: “We Are Not a Number“), my duties were varied – praying with a patient right before their surgery, comforting a family waiting in the ER for their family member, rushing to any room that was involved in a Code, contacting family members for any patient who was brought in by Medevac Helicopter, or even sitting with anyone alone in the ER, looking scared and in pain. That last description was just about everyone.

In the rare event that I had a chance to try for some rest in the on-call room, I would prop my feet up and close my eyes until the beeping of my pager broke into my reverie. Either that, or the whirring sound of the helicopter blades as the Medevac neared its landing pad on the roof. Then it would be off the bed, out the door, racing to the trauma bays. “ETA – 10 minutes.” Just enough time to arrive at the ER, get suited up, ready for whomever was brought in.

Sometimes it was a motor vehicle accident or an ATV rider without a helmet vs. a tree, a drunk driver crashing into a building, a lineman electrocuted by live wires, a lonely person who jumped from a bridge or took too many pills, someone rescued from a burning house or a factory explosion. All sorts of traumas passed through the doors.

Staff included ER doctors, nurses, chaplains, phlebotomists, x-ray techs, security guards, physician’s assistants – all standing in their appointed spot in the small area that included two fully equipped trauma bays, waiting for the flight nurses or EMTs to arrive with their patient. I never saw anyone or anything that was unprofessional; the focus was always on each arriving patient and doing whatever possible to save their lives. The staff moved as a team with quiet precision.

desertspringshospital

desertspringshospital

On a particularly busy night, our latest arrivals were a young mother and her child from a motor vehicle accident; her husband and their second child were taken to another hospital near-by. Thankfully, the child escaped with minor abrasions and a concussion, and was already in a bed in pediatrics. The mother took more time to stabilize with some broken ribs, a fractured wrist, abrasions and contusions. Following our treatment, she was whisked off for a C-T scan.

Business as usual followed each patient – housekeeping cleaned the area, doctors signed off on computers, security locked up valuables and technicians moved aside their portable x-ray machines.

Suddenly the double doors from inside the ER swung open and the young mother was brought back in. Puzzled, we looked to the tech who wheeled her past us into the surgical suite adjacent to the bays. This operating room was normally used for those patients with injuries severe enough that there wasn’t enough time to make it to a regular OR.

Knowing she didn’t need surgery, someone asked what was wrong.

“This seems to be the only private area available. The other hospital notified us that the husband will be okay, but we need to tell her that her other child died.”

The double doors to the OR shut with a quiet whoosh. Through the window I could see the doctor take the mother’s hand as he leaned closer. Two nurses stood at the other side of the bed. With that terrible news delivered in the gentlest and kindest of ways – the kind of news from which you never recover – we heard a cry released from the depths of her being, the OR suite unable to contain the sounds of her grief.

It pierced our ears and our hearts. Then, total silence. Not one sound came from any of us – and there were at least 20 staff present – as we froze in place. For us, nothing else existed but the mother’s agonized cry. It tore into us, demanding our respect and mindful attention.

In that terrible moment, it seemed as if the cries of all parents who ever lost a child (the worst loss) echoed through time…through generations…and reverberated off the walls of this very place.

mourner

mourner

A doctor stood in his scrubs, head thrown back with eyes closed, fists at his sides. Two nurses held each other in a tight embrace; the woman from housekeeping held her mop in mid stride; a resident’s hand stood motionless above a keyboard, typing stopped in mid-sentence; a security guard turned toward the wall.

My eyes met the doctor’s, whose mirrored the pain. In a single movement, my back slid down the wall and I held my knees in my arms, the tableau frozen with her raw grief.

After what seemed like forever, but could only have been a minute, a voice overhead announcing the ETA of another trauma snapped us out of our absorption. The area became a buzz of activity as we picked up where we had left off, grateful for the respite offered by much-needed focus, occupied with our assigned tasks.

We could push all of this aside, but the mother could not. We could hug our own children that night, or call to remind them of our love, but the mother could only do that with one child, rather than two.

Once again, as medical professionals we were reminded that regardless of our technology or expertise or willingness to switch places in order to keep children from harm, all stories do not have happy endings. Once again, there was no good answer for the question on everyone’s lips – “Why?” It was beyond our human understanding. And it hurt. It hurt terribly.

But for a brief moment, in that hospital, there were no differences in skin color or language, in gender or faith tradition, in economic status or profession, in looks or bank account. We were joined through threads of pain and compassion, of despair and hope…and of love.

We were together. Interconnected.

Although no one moved, you could almost feel our arms reaching out to the young mother in her grief, comforting her, reassuring her. And if you looked closely enough, you could almost see the faint outline of a little girl kissing her mother’s cheek good-bye…

fanpop

fanpop

Be well, my child. Play and laugh and sing. Your family loves you and will always remember you. And even though we never met you, all of us with your mother that night love you and remember you as well. In the too-short time you lived, you mattered to so very many of us.

From deep in our hearts, we send you our eternal blessings.

Circles of Grace and Compassion. A Circle of Love.

________________________________________________