I Am Restless

Music: “Restless” by Audrey Assad

YouTube: created by musiclyrics001

“Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning. And so we men, who are a due part of your creation, long to praise you – we also carry our mortality about with us, carry the evidence of our sin and with it the proof that you thwart the proud. You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is unquiet until it rests in you.”

~ Saint Augustine, Confessions, L1

I have been finding myself becoming very restless lately. One reason I know is the cabin fever caused by the long deep freeze we are thawing out from under. In Wyoming, we are even more restless because we know nature is only toying with us – giving forty to fifty degree weather as a temporary reprieve from arctic blasts. Soon we will be shivering – longing for the beaches of Hawaii or golf courses of Arizona, or some other warm place.

This morning I woke up, rather rudely, due to a major blow out of my permanent colostomy system. A living reminder of another cause for my restlessness – the endless waiting for a surgery to correct a malfunctioning stoma area and remove a failing gall bladder. With my twisted sense of humor, this event just added fodder for my post on restlessness.

Last week, I shared a little bit about what I am dealing with almost on a daily basis. I have chronic peristomal pyoderma gangrenosum. My current PPG activity is like the more extreme photos found on a Google search here. [Warning! do not visit if you have a weak stomach or children around.] Currently, I have four ulcers with only the smallest one still at the epidermis level of the skin. This complication is extremely painful. Literally, if one were to hold their hand a few inches above an inflamed area you’ll feel emanating intense heat. The problem is that active PPG bleeds profusely, thereby making a good seal almost impossible. There-go a blow out at 4:30 am when one should be able to sleep peacefully in their warm bed. Talk about a restless way to wake up.

But do not despair for me. Even though it caused extreme physical pain at 4:30 am this morning, I am still smiling. There might also be a little Wyoming grit in my flawed personality that helps me deal with it. Jesus is the only one who can get me up at that hour to clean up and slap another bag doomed to fail on top of bleeding ulcers. My nightgown was not even soiled because I was woken moments before it happened. Thank you Jesus and my guardian angels, amen!

Let’s get back to restlessness. For those of us who are always sick we have an intimate knowledge of that word down to the very core of our being. Many diseases and illnesses cause a physical restlessness or anxiety reaction within our bodies, that can affect movements, nerves, nerves, muscles, sleep, pain perception, and definitely mental function, . RightDiagnosis.com (here) lists over 380 medical conditions that cause restlessness and thousands of conditions that are related to restlessness. Even medical professionals classify restlessness as a natural stage of the human dying process. The restlessness we experience from our cloistered hospital beds or homes can make us feel like we are dying even if we aren’t.

These forms of restlessness I have described above are about mental or physical suffering. The type of restlessness that Saint Augustine speaks of in his Confessions is a spiritual reality of the frail human condition. (see a cool website with his PDF file Here.) OK, a little bit of heavy reading! I am feeling a bit restless, now. Lets break it down a little and learn more about Saint Augustine at the same time. Here is a FUN video about him and his experience of this type of restlessness. Warning it is a rap for Catholic theology students with some puppets, need I say more?

Music: Confessionz (St. Augustine Rap Remixed) by by Chris “MCG” Gehrz

Found on YouTube: CWCRadio  (full lyrics under about tab)

Now that was a fun way to learn a little bit about a doctor of the Church. A testament for how God will use our loves and desires to pierce our hearts. Helped relieve some of my physical and mental restlessness too.

Let’s get back to the seriousness of our discussion. Restlessness is not necessarily bad. It is like a warning signal not just to the body, but to our spirits as well. Restlessness always points to a yearning or longing. When our body’s are broken it’s a physical symptom of our body crying out for wholeness. When our emotions are torn to shreds it is a emotional signal that something needs to be worked out. Saint Augustine shows that spiritual restlessness is a reaching out for God and a necessary capacity of the human condition. Restlessness is always hard and at times quite painful.

The broken restlessness of our sick bodies are actually a testimonial to the complex nature of the very creation of human life. When something breaks we have blow outs. When we experience physical or mental restlessness our body cries out for physical and mental integrity it knows it was designed for. We only get little fleeting tidbits of of body integration on a very good day.

When we experience spiritual restlessness it means that our spirit longs for God. We are being invited to engage in relationship with the one who created us and our wonderful human body. We just know deep down inside that this longing cannot be fulfilled in this life – only in the next. We just get a brief glimpse of the hope of the resurrection of the body and the perfect union with God in heaven.

Challenge for this week: Cling to the knowledge that in this life there will be restlessness and that we will all experience it in different ways and different stages of our lives. We need to learn to trust that even though this moment maybe an extremely difficult one. We are never alone. We are always loved! Think of it! At that moment when the intense gross reality of human frailty glares at you smack in the nose. Even restlessness is as much a gift as the mess and pain one faces.

I actually had a wound care specialist talk about the art of healing horrible PPG wounds. It was fascinating for me to listen to her speak on the deep wonder she had for the complexity of the human body. The absolute uniqueness of every patient she saw. No case was ever the same. What works for one doesn’t work for the other. Some cases may be similar but they are always unique.

When faced with the grossness of the reality she faces in her work, instead of running away, she is inspired to heal and ease the pain. She said she often prays as she works, praying that God guides her hands. Not surprisingly, she had the most gentle touch I have ever experienced.

More amazing, God created bodily fluids – yucky!  But his ways are not our ways. He loves us more then we can even imagine. In his great love he gave us his son on the cross. His passion, as a brilliant 8th grader told me, “that was really gross, I almost threw up!” Talk about restlessness.

So are you as restless as I am?

Let us pray to be stilled as only God can!

Psalm 46

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns.

The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”

The Word of the Lord. Thanks Be to God.

Need to calm down more then let us rest together below.

Music: “Be Still” by Kari Jobe

Found on YouTube: KatyeIreland

Store Up Treasures

Store Up Treasures by Burlap to Cashmere

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consumes and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

~ Mat 6:19

Treasures are something of extreme value. People watch with an expectation for the considerable appraisal of a rare and precious item during an episode of the Antique Roadshow. We get excited when we see things prized. We want to protect our accumulated things and keep them close. We need to be in command of these treasures upon the earth.

When one is chronically or seriously ill, the things we treasure most are eventually taken away from us. We lose the ability to travel or take a vacation. We might be too sick to work or join friends for an evening out. We may lose the ability to talk or to walk due to progressive disability. We are unable to hold the treasures upon the earth. We no longer possess them because they are the things of dust. They will all pass away.

We do have tremendous riches waiting for us to store, things that will not pass away. These treasures are not of the earth but are eternal tokens of love that we gather not just for ourselves for but others as well. Our illness or disability become the very medium to receive these treasures. When one lives with this truth, the burden of our toil becomes easier to bear.  For we begin to engage in the realm of heavenly treasure hunting. Even the weakest among us can engaged in this activity.

How does one engage in this heavenly treasure hunt? A hunt that can take place even while trapped in a hospital bed or broken body? Easy – through little acts of surrender and supplication.

Let’s define these two acts. Surrender is the intentional act of accepting something that you have no control with meekness or docility. Supplication is offering up a prayer or petition with love and humility before God. They are the two means one needs to hunt for heavenly treasure successfully.

One does not need to speak or pray a certain way, just a movement of the heart will do. Practicing this when one is having a good day and making it a habit prepares these little movements of the heart easier on the really hard days. Trust that God knows the deep intention of your heart.

Sometimes when one is in great pain, the words do not come easily. The spirit can work miracles with the right intention, When one stuck in a bed or a shut in, the heart becomes natural sanctuary of hidden prayer. “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Mat 6:6)

One can begin to understand why those old souls among us say their illness or disability is the greatest gift they have ever received. They may already have many treasures in heaven stored away. What treasures does Jesus have in store for you today?

Challenge for this Week: Begin storing up treasures in heaven this week by practicing little acts of surrender and supplications. They can be simple ones. When you have to bear a needle or a medical test that must be done tell Jesus, “Take this for your will, your desire, not mine.” Accept the needle or examination with joy and peace within your heart. Ask Jesus to use this pain, this struggle or this inconvenience for his perfect need or work.

Know that Christ is right there with you as you live through this pain. Remember that this simple act becomes a token of love for him. Any tears shed are precious gems he catches in the palm of his hand. If you struggle with surrender and supplications, pray the prayer below by Ignatius of Loyola. This simple prayer is not always easy to say. If you trust Jesus enough it will help you on the journey to hunt for treasures in heaven.

If this is still too hard to do, there is a musical reflection of the prayer written and song by a follower of Ignatius that can help you to open your heart to the treasure Christ wants to give you. There is even a PDF file to print out a simple prayer card to keep.

Pray This Simple Prayer:  Take, Lord and receive my memory, my understanding, my entire will, All that I have and possess. You have given all to me. To you I return it. Dispose of it entirely according to your will. Give me your Love and your Grace this is sufficient for me. Amen.

Suscipe

A prayer card (PDF file) to print as a gift from the Jesuits click here.

Prayer of Supplication St. Ignatius Loyola

Prayer of Supplication
St. Ignatius Loyola

Take and Receive by Savio Freitas

A young  Jesuit missionary and musician serving Christ in Timor Leste, Indonesia and elsewhere.