Monday Meeting — Krishna Thompson

Krishna Thompson

Krishna Thompson

Meet Krishna Thompson, 47: Shark attack survivor

From “The Against All Odds Club”
By Brooke Lea Foster
Psychology Today – April 2013

August 2001, Krishna Thompson and his wife flew to the Bahamas to celebrate their 10-year wedding anniversary. Thompson’s wife didn’t enjoy swimming, so one morning he woke up before her to get some extra time in the ocean. The water was usually crystal clear, but that morning it was murky and rough. Thompson was treading water when he noticed a shark fin coming toward him. He calmly backed off, hoping the animal would go away, but the 10-foot bull shark swam through his legs, its slippery skin grazing his right knee.

Then, without warning, the animal snapped back and took Thompson’s left leg in its mouth. It dragged Thompson underwater, shaking him like a rag doll. He thought about how he was going to die without ever having children. He feared that he would drown, which panicked him. Thompson summoned all of his strength, reached down toward his leg, and punched the shark in the face, which surprised the animal enough to release its jaws.

Thompson swam to shore and collapsed. When he caught sight of his left leg, all he saw was a broken tibia bone—there was no flesh left, no arteries, just bone. He remembers staring at the overcast sky and thinking: “I beat this shark, and I’m going to live to tell the world about it.”

As Krishna Thompson lay on the beach after the attack, his left leg ripped up to nothing but bone, it occurred to him: I am the man who conquered a shark. He approached his recovery with similar resolve, working hard to chase away any negative thoughts with positive ones—even after learning his leg injury would require amputation.

Thompson counted down the days for six months until he could return to work on Wall Street. In 2002, on his first day back, he didn’t drive in to New York City, which would have put less pressure on his leg. He insisted on taking the one-hour commuter train, pushing his way onto packed subway cars, and walking up the steps out of the station. He’s taken the same route in the decade since, his leg often throbbing at the spot where it’s connected to the prosthesis. Still, when a woman asked him to help carry her stroller up the subway steps recently, he didn’t tell her he had a prosthetic leg. Instead, he nodded and said: “We’ll just have to go slowly.” He held onto the railing with one hand, the stroller in his other, and used his good leg to inch his way up the steps.

Sometimes he stands in the mirror and shudders at what he calls his “deformed leg.” But he’s quick to remember: It could have been worse. “Yes, you lost a leg,” he’ll tell himself. “But you have a whole other leg. You have two arms. You can walk.”

Today, he and his wife have a daughter, Indira, 10, and a son, Chad, 5. As his kids have grown, he’s realized the attack can still rattle him. He and his family were swimming in the pool one day when his son accidentally kicked his foot—and a shot of panic rushed through him. He nearly didn’t let his daughter go on a class trip to a local beach. “I was scared they wouldn’t watch her closely enough,” he says.

When a Manhattan police officer was hit by a car and lost his leg, Thompson felt compelled to visit the man in the hospital. He strutted into the room in a suit, walked over to the windows, and put his leg up on the windowsill. “I heard about your accident,” Thompson told the officer, whom he’d never met. Then Thompson lifted his pants leg and showed the young officer his prosthetic leg. The officer’s face lit up, and Thompson said to him: “You’re going to be fine.”


In honor of all those who triumph over adversity with
courage, perseverance, determination and sheer will.
Your souls shine and your spirits inspire us with hope.
~ Theresa

This is My Wish For You

This is My Wish For You
by Charles Livingston Snell

This is my wish for you…

That the spirit of beauty may continually hover about you
and fold you close within the tenderness of her wings.

That each beautiful and gracious thing in life
may be unto you as a symbol of good for your soul’s delight.

That your soul may be as an alabaster cup,
filled to overflowing with the mystical wine of beauty and love.

That happiness may put her arms around you,
and wisdom make your soul serene.

This is my wish for you.



Native American Prayer

Sun Up Till Sun Down

Sun Up Till Sun Down

O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds,
and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me.
I am small and weak.
I need Your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes
ever hold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things You have made.
Make my ears sharp to hear Your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
You have taught Your people.
Let me learn the lessons You have hidden
in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than another,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to You
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my spirit may come to You without shame.

The Greatest Miracle in the World

“However, I am not that sort of a ragpicker.
I seek more valuable materials than old newspapers and aluminum beer cans..
I search out waste materials of the human kind,
people who have been discarded by others, or even themselves,
people who still have great potential
but have lost their self-esteem and their desire for a better life.
When I find them, I try to change their lives for the better,
give them a new sense of hope and direction,
and help them return from their living death…
which to me is the greatest miracle in the world.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World

If there is any one thing that being a Licensed Mental Health Professional can teach you, it is that every single person you meet has a story. Some are easier to detect, while others are cloaked in near perfect images of success. The complexity of these stories is enhanced by gender, socioeconomic status, culture, genetics, upbringing, faith tradition, age, marital status, family situation, education…the list goes on.

But every person has a story…

In my work, I am privileged to be a co-journeyer with another person when they choose to share even a small part of their story. The details of some of their stories can crush you; I often find myself marveling at their strength and courage. Indeed, I do not know if I would still be standing if I had to go through what some people have gone through. And yet many of them retain their inherent goodness as they keep pushing forward…

The single mother whose younger son was tragically killed in a car accident by his older brother, which she was reminded of each time her oldest son came home from school…

The woman whose father had sexually abused her since she was an infant, with whom she had three children, receives word of his terminal cancer diagnosis and is torn between wanting to forgive him and wanting to condemn him…

The man who never told anyone else about his molestation when he was a little boy at the hands of his stepfather…

The former gang member, his body covered in tattoos, crying about how his mother died in her native country without knowing that her son left the gang and started a new life…

The teenaged girl, left pregnant from a brutal rape, whose daily morning sickness reminded her each day of the horrific incident…

The Viet Nam veteran who was plagued by flashbacks of his best buddy being blown into pieces right next to him…

The teen-aged girl, without siblings, who lost both her parents within 6 months of each other – her mother to cancer, her father in a car accident…

The woman who suffered from schizophrenia and refused psychotropic medication, who was evicted from another apartment every 3 months…

The woman who committed suicide because she could not see a way out of an abusive relationship…

A successful business woman who was now living out of her car because of her husband’s secret gambling addiction…

A young woman who would seek shelter in a closet during every thunderstorm, unable to forget how her mother used to bathe her in scalding hot water to try to cleanse her daughter of her fear…

“Each of these individuals and everyone else in the world
still have their own pilot light burning inside them.
It may be very diminished in some,
but…it never, never goes out!
So long as there is a breath of life remaining,
there is still hope…and that’s what we ragpickers count on.
Just give us a chance and we can provide the fuel
that will be ignited by any pilot light,
no matter how diminished it may be.
A human being…is an amazing and complex and resilient
organism capable of resuscitating itself
from its own living death many times,
if it is given the opportunity and shown the way.”
~ Og Mandino, The Greatest Miracle in the World

We are resilient, we human beings.  And we are even better when we are joined in our pain by someone who cares…by someone who believes in our worth…who does not judge us, but rather sits with us in unconditional positive regard…who holds on to hope until each of us finds it once again…by someone who is simply present.

So I will continue to be present with those in need, whether those dying at the end of life or those dying while they pretend to live. I will search out those who have been discarded and slowly help them to believe in their worth. If I can find them, then they can find themselves.

And in our connectedness, together we will transform their diminished pilot light into a burning blaze that shines brightly for all to see.

Circles of Compassion and Grace. Remembering the Ragpicker’s instruction by following his very own:

Laws of Success and Happiness

~ Count your blessings. ~
~ Proclaim your rarity! ~
~ Go another mile. ~
~ Use wisely your power of choice. ~
~ Do all things with love. ~

And remembering that we humans are indeed the Greatest Miracle in the World…

The Lost Choice

From “The Lost Choice” by Andy Andrews

“I made you different from the others;

on the planet earth, there has never been one like you…and there never will be again.
Your spirit, your thoughts and feelings, your ability to reason – all exist in no one else.
Your eyes are a masterpiece, incomparable, and windows to a soul that is also uniquely yours.
 A single strand of your hair has been created especially for you. Of the multitudes who have come before you,
and the multitudes who may follow, not one of them duplicates the formula with which I made you.

I made you different from the others.

The blood that flows through your veins flows through the heart of one whom I’ve chosen. The rarities
that make you one of a kind, my child, are no mere accident or quirk of fate.
 I made you different in order that you might make a difference.
 You have been created with the ability to change the world.
Every single choice you make…every single action you take…matters.
But remember, the converse is true.
Every choice you do not make…every action you do not take…matters just as much!
Your actions cannot be hoarded, saved for later, or used selectively.
 By your hand, many lives will be altered, caught up in a chain of events begun by you this very day.
But the opposite is also true as well.
 Many lives are altered, caught up in a different chain of events, if you choose to wait.
 You possess the power of choice. Free will.
You have been given everything you need to act, but the choice is yours alone.
And beginning this very moment, you will choose wisely.

Now go.

And never feel inadequate again.
Do not dwell in the thoughts of insignificance or wander aimlessly, like a sheep.
You are powerful.
You matter.
And you have been found.
You are my choice.”

Your Father

In Gratitude

nominated by Ajaytao2010

nominated by Ajaytao2010

I would like to express my deepest thanks to Ajaytao2010 for nominating me for one of three awards. My delay in acknowledging his gift to me has nothing to do with my feelings about it, only to do with the myriad of things happening in my life at the moment. Needless to say, I know my readers and fellow bloggers understand this. I hope that Ajaytao2010 does as well…

I decided on the Blog Sunshine Award, which will no doubt be a surprise to my husband and son. Both of them thankfully follow my blog (I think I threatened them if they didn’t), and often moan about the fact that too many of my posts are, as they describe them, “tear-jerkers.” I must confess that their comments surprise me, as that is not my intention on Soul Gatherings.

My hope with this blog is to inspire my readers with stories about the triumph of the human spirit; of what happens when ordinary people do extraordinary things, from which either one of us, or all of us, benefits. People reaching out to others – whether by words, actions, thoughts, photographs – people touching others. In almost all the cases, the people I write about or the quotations I post have touched my heart. I pass them along so that they might touch yours.

That’s where the Blog Sunshine Award comes in – if some of the posts elicit a few tears, then they were poignant and meaningful and inspiring. Mission accomplished! And when folks reblog some of the posts, that’s even better.

Contrary to popular belief, tears can be a good thing, too.

So my blessings and gratitude to Ajaytao2010. I can only hope to live up to his expectations…

The rules suggest that I nominate 15 people for this award. Please forgive me if I do not reach 15, as I am still reading new bloggers each day and getting to know them, and many of them have already received this award. There are so many worthy bloggers out there, but I lately I just haven’t had the time needed to follow them (or, as you’ve already noticed, post things other than quotations, either). Here are 10 blogs I enjoy:

Travel Love Laugh

A Word in Your Ear

Stephen Liddell

Owl McCloud

Jenadee 222


Sleepless Psyche

Smile Calm

T K Morin

Pearl Street Gallery

[Note: If someone can tell me why my presenting the above names as a “link” didn’t follow through, please let this new blogger know what I did wrong!]

Lastly, I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself. Since I already have 7 in my earlier post, Gratitude, I’ll try to come up with some new ones:

1) I have never regretted my career change in mid-life.

2) I have a passion for ancient civilizations.

3) I have a passion for visiting the locations of ancient civilizations.

4) I read 5 different archaeology magazines each month.

5) I admit to watching Amazing Race and Survivor because I love to “profile” and “diagnose” (in a psychology sense) the participants from afar.

6) My son says growing up with me as a mother was “intense.”

7) There’s a reason for everything. Yes – even suffering.

We Are Not a Number

Holocaust Tattoo II

While looking for a full-time job after switching careers, I worked per diem in the Pastoral Care Department of a hospital that was designated a Level I Trauma Center. 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, or even sitting with anyone alone in the ER, looking scared and in pain. That last description was just about everyone.

One night, during a double weekend shift, I approached a group of medical personnel outside of an end room in the ER and asked if I could be of any help. As the attending physician finished signing some paperwork in the chart, one of the nurses asked me if I could notify the woman’s family or pastor that she had expired (hospital-speak for “died”). I took the record, knowing how challenging these in-the-middle-of-the-night phone calls could be.

As I paged through her chart for contact information, I saw that Esther was a widow in her 80s with no children. The name of a Rabbi was listed as her emergency contact, which meant that any siblings were probably gone as well.

She was alone. Totally alone.

I used the phone at the nurse’s station and reached her Rabbi, who said he would be at the hospital within 30 minutes. I went into her room and saw two aides silently cleaning up the evidence of the ER staff’s attempts to save her life – the crash cart, gloves, torn gauze wrappers and the like. As I looked down at the bed, I saw a petite woman with white hair and a delicately contoured face. She must have been quite a beauty when she was younger. Eyes closed, she looked to be at peace.

I watched as the aides straightened the sheet that covered Esther, carefully moving her arms so that they were comfortably placed at her sides. One of the young women stopped when she saw something on the inside of Esther’s forearm – some kind of ink. She reached for a near-by washcloth.

“Wait.” I stepped closer and saw the row of numbers tattooed on Esther’s forearm. “Do you know what this is, what it means?” I asked as I murmured a silent prayer. Both shook their head “no.” I quietly explained: “The numbers mean that Esther was a prisoner in one of the German concentration camps during World War II.”

They looked confused and I realized that maybe they were too young to be familiar with the Holocaust? Hard to believe, but possible. But now was not the time or place for a history lesson. “If you want, I can explain more after her Rabbi gets here. In the meantime, thank you. I’ll stay with Esther.”

As the door closed, I bowed my head. I was in the presence of someone who had faced evil and survived. Esther was one of the more than 400,000 prisoners at one of the 3 Auschwitz concentration camps who had been assigned a serial number for identification. Pictures of the emaciated prisoners when the camps were liberated flashed in my mind, and I wondered how many (if any) of Esther’s family members had been killed in the camps. What Esther had seen and experienced in her time there was beyond my comprehension.

My thoughts became prayers for Esther. This woman had survived the nearly 6 million people who were Jewish victims of the Holocaust. I cringed at the thought of the possibility that she couldn’t have children because of the experiments that had been performed on some of the female prisoners.

Had Esther ever lost hope? Had she ever given up? What helped her survive each day in a hell of mankind’s making? Did faith give her courage and strength and determination? I would never know.

The door opened and a nurse said I was needed in another room. I told her I would contact the chaplain-on-call, as I preferred to stay with Esther.

“Who’s coming to pick up the body?”

“Her Rabbi.”

“Okay, then come with me. No one will disturb her.”

I reached for my pager. “I’ll call the chaplain, and he’ll help you. I’m obligated to stay with Esther.”

The nurse, her face a cross between annoyed and confused, left.

When a Jewish person dies, out of respect, they are not to be left alone. By staying, I would offer Esther’s soul comfort until her Rabbi came. She had been alone enough. She had seen and experienced horrific death and destruction; perhaps now, I could offer her one small kindness.

I prayed Psalm 23 aloud.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

As I slowly covered Esther’s face, I smiled at its inherent dignity.

Thank you, Esther, for the essence that is you. I am deeply sorry for the tears you’ve shed during your life and for all the pain. May your death be a threshold to all that is good. In the “world-to-come,” may you have love, happiness, joy, community and kindness. No more darkness, only light. May you be wrapped in Circles of Grace. May God command His angels to guard you in all your ways.

I turned as the door opened. “Rabbi Levine?”

“Yes, and you must be Theresa?” We shook hands as I offered him my condolences.

“Thank you for staying,” the Rabbi offered quietly. “Esther has been alone for a long time.”

“No thanks are needed, Rabbi. It is a privilege and an honor.” I walked toward the door, my time here done. I took one last look at the bed. Rest in Peace.

Sacred Ground. Honoring the strength of the human spirit.

At the same time, remembering man’s inhumanity to man and pledging as an individual to never forget. To never allow history to repeat it. Ever.  Esther – this I promise you.


“I am only one; but still I am one.
I cannot do everything, but still I can do something;
I will not refuse to do something I can do.”

― Helen Keller


Esther – May your soul shine with everlasting light.