Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Snow, the Studio, Resolutions

Yesterday I visited my studio, which is in a remodeled carriage barn behind our home. There was fresh snow on the ground. It was lovely.

Snowy slope behind the studio

Snowy slope behind the studio

I was dashing out there to get some supplies I needed for a small project I am working on in the house, but I stopped to take the above photo with my phone. In the past few years I have spent little time working in the studio, though I very much want to. Over time, supplies have accumulated there: piles everywhere, half-finished projects are on tables, in baskets, tucked away on shelves. I have been “away” for years, with only occasional visits. The place is in terrible disarray.

During 2016, as I was healing from major surgery, I would sometimes visit the studio for short visits to sort and organize. I even made a few simple gifts for people. I am again able to use my sewing machine without discomfort, and now that I’m on fewer meds, my hands shake less when I work. I have hope for more time in the studio in 2017, but first I would need to make the space workable again. That will take sustained effort.

So, a fine New Year’s resolution would be to do just that. Then why have I been hesitant to make a resolution to finally get the studio in working order? Some days I feel that reclaiming the studio is what I really want to focus on in the new year; I know doing it would feed my soul and make it possible for me to concentrate on my creativity once again. And yet on other days I think there are probably better ways to spend my time. When will I return to ministry work? Should I spend time catching up with my family and friends, after being focused on regaining my health for so long? Or how about our country’s political situation; should my focus be on the environment? I am tugged in many directions.

Somehow being out there yesterday with the fresh snow all around made it seem like a new beginning is in order. Thinking about it now, I realize that beginning again in the studio has the potential to encompass some of the other strands of my life. I used to use the space not just as a studio, but as a place to offer spiritual direction, and also to have workshops for small groups. I used to do projects with my grandchildren there. The space provided sanctuary not just for artwork, but for ministry, friends and family. In it I worked on nature- and environment-themed projects. It really is all of a piece. Through the process of writing about this, I have returned to the New Year’s resolution to put my studio in order, and begin again.

Below is a 2011 photo from part of the studio, neat and spacious. Something to which I can aspire!

Easter: Rebirth & Renewal

It has been some time since I posted here. As some of you may know from my earlier posts, my health has been challenged in a big way for the past five years. Actually, it began before that, about twenty years ago, but doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong for fifteen of those years. By the time I was diagnosed, I was at Stage 3 out of 4. The autoimmune condition (Primary Biliary Cholangitis with Autoimmune Hepatitis overlap) is incurable, but a liver transplant can prolong life.

On November 23rd, 2015, I was finally transplanted, at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Miraculously, an anonymous living donor had come forward. This person is unknown to me. He or she had intended to donate to another person, and went through the health workups and evaluation, but the transplant did not happen. I do not know why not. The donor decided to go ahead anyway, donating a piece of his/her liver to a stranger in need. Because of my poor quality of life, my blood type and my relatively small size, I was chosen. I received the left lobe of the donor’s liver, and the pieces grew back to almost full size very quickly for us both. My new liver grew to almost full size by eight weeks post-surgery!

K with plush liver - Version 3

At six months after the surgery I will be allowed to (anonymously) contact the donor through the clinic to express my gratitude. If all goes well, years will be added to my life. Transplantation is not a cure, for the problem does recur in some cases, but already the new organ has made a huge difference in my quality of life and well being.

Now I am recovering from the surgery. The most dangerous time, regarding rejection of the transplant, is in the first three to four months post-surgery. I have made it past that point with no rejection episodes. Hurrah! Full healing will take at least a year. But today, to celebrate Easter and enjoy this fine early Spring day, I walked in the woods with my husband, looking for signs of seasonal renewal.

Easter 2016, Renewal!

This was my worship today, because being immuno-compromised by anti-rejection drugs, I am still avoiding groups of people in close quarters. This year especially, Easter is very meaningful to me, as I experience life anew, with energy, gratitude, and hope for the future.

PS – Share Life! Be an organ donor!

Descent to the Underworld for Wisdom

The Autumn Equinox ~ Stepping into the power of the dark part of the yearly cycle.

This is the time when the dark, which has been growing, is in balance with the light. We are grateful for the Harvest, but we also know that Life is waning.

This is time of year when Persephone descends to the Underworld to access her deep wisdom and compassion in caring for the dead. It is the time of her mother Demeter’s grief and sorrow, and with her we weep for our losses.

This year, Mabon, or the Autumn Equinox, is especially meaningful for me. In the past few months I have gone through losses due to an autoimmune disease signaled by a medical emergency in May. Since then, I have not posted much, because I have been resting, regaining strength by walking, and most difficult, getting used to my new life. Some days are good, others are not so good. Until I wake in the morning, I do not know whether I’ll be incapacitated by fatigue, or whether I’ll be able to do some work or visit a friend.

Some days I feel that life is indeed waning. This Equinox I enter the underworld of chronic illness and seek whatever wisdom I am able to glean from this dark place. Certainly I am learning much about patience, loss, compassion, and stepping into my power as I deal with the medical community. The dark also feels womb-like at times, and I can even appreciate how this hermit-life may suit me. This is a perfect time of year for introspection, for seeking wisdom.

Will you be descending to the underworld this Autumn?

Sharing the Glory

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature— the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.” ~Rachel Carson

This morning I discovered the above quote on WordPress friend Robin’s lovely blog, which expresses exactly how I feel this morning, as I regain strength. Robin’s fabulous Green Man post  is currently featured on Freshly Pressed. Please visit it to see her photography.

And last but not least, a blessing from a friend:  this morning Sharon sent me this photo she took in the Berkshire countryside yesterday.

Photo by Sharon Lips

Hunger

It is the middle of the night, or rather, very early in the morning, and I cannot sleep. Thoughts and flashbacks of my days in the hospital, as well as some physical discomfort, are keeping me awake now.

I find myself thinking about hunger. Because of a medical procedure, I was not allowed to eat while I was in the hospital. From Thursday to Monday I had nothing but water, clear apple juice, and the occasional sip of ginger ale. Finally on Sunday I had some veggie broth; it, too, was clear.

At the time, I was beset with so many other issues that I didn’t miss the food very much. But by Sunday, my growling belly finally got my attention. A nurse urged me to have someone make me a “real” vegetable broth, and bring it in to me on Monday.

The food hunger made me weak and tired, but there were other hungers which were much more noticeable to me at this time.  The hunger for understanding, when diagnoses kept changing, and I was left not-knowing. The hunger for familiar smells, rather than the sickly, disinfectant hospital odor. The hunger for a window, so that I could see the sky, sun, trees (all I could see was a plastic curtain, ceiling, walls, floor). And mostly, the hunger for kind and warm human contact. Fortunately, I was blessed with attentive caregivers. The doctors were kind, and did their best to accommodate my choices, which sometimes ran contrary to theirs.

Upon leaving the hospital, I luxuriated in warm air, fragrant breezes, the colors from the low evening sun, the glow of trees that had flowered while I was sequestered. My husband served me a real meal, which was so intensely flavorful and full of texture that I could only nibble at it, savoring each bite. Friends are appearing, bringing food and love. Tears come to my eyes as I think of those who know how to appease hunger not only with food, but with their care, their warmth, and their willing listening. I am blessed by both blossoms and people. My hunger has been filled with good.

Place of Resurrection

“Let your feet follow your heart until you find your place of resurrection.”

This Celtic saying reflects the importance of pilgrimage as a spiritual practice in the Celtic tradition.

At the holy well of St. Brigid in Kildare, Ireland.

Why “place of resurrection?” During  pilgrimage we leave behind our usual ways, our comforts, as we step into the unknown. Resurrection is about the trust we have that our steps will be led by the ever-unfolding presence of guidance in our lives – that which brings us hope, healing, renewal, liberation, transformation, rebirth – whatever we choose to call it: God or Goddess, cosmic serendipity, Tao, flow, Christ consciousness, emergence, the Universe.

Celtic monks sought their places of resurrection in this world, journeying to find the place where they could best fulfill their mission. Many of us are wanderers in this way – spiritually if not physically. We follow our hearts to best discern where we can serve, and how we can bring the spirit of resurrection to others.

Feel free to share your pilgrimage and resurrection stories.



Registration Brochures at last!

On the sanctuarywithoutwalls events blog you will find a post which includes the registration brochures for events which will be facilitated by my friend Phoebe and me:

Growing Older, Growing Wiser: Becoming an Elderwoman ~ For women 55 and older, on the second Tuesday of each month, September 14, 2010  –  March 8, 2011  ~ 7-9 PM

To download the registration brochure with all the details, click on the following link:

Elderwoman registration brochure

________________________

After being away and entertaining guests, I’ve had many little details to attend to here. It feels great to make these available, at last! Check out the events site for details and other happenings.