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

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Praise Reflection: For the Beauty

A Gift for You:

Open the video to full screen, and watch this video with the beauty of God’s creation.

For the Beauty of the Earth – John Rutter

From: From Within the Heart’s YouTube Channel

“Question the beauty of the earth, the beauty of the sea, the beauty of the wide air around you, the beauty of the sky; question the order of the stars, the sun whose brightness lights the days, the moon whose splendor softens the gloom of night; question the living creatures that move in the waters, that roam upon the earth, that fly through the air; the spirit that lies hidden, the matter that is manifest; the visible things that are ruled, the invisible things that rule them; question all these. They will answer you: “Behold and see, we are beautiful.” Their beauty is their confession to God. Who made these beautiful changing things, if not one who is beautiful and changeth not?”

(St. Augustine, Sermons, 241, Easter: C.411 A.D.)

Sometimes when we are stuck in the midst of the suffering of illness, we become trapped in self-misery. Illness is full of uncertainty and pain. We feel left out as others around us get to experience life to the fullest. It becomes a very lonely place to be when we lose our sense of wonder and awe. We might struggle to find significance in our life and miss seeing the moments of joy and grace God has in store for us even in our sick bed. This week we are going to focus on beauty and what that means.

God has given us a great gift; the gift of the breath-taking beauty of nature. Often referred to as the Book of Nature, we see God’s hand in all his creations. Who can gaze upon a magnificent sunrise or the majestic mountain range from the heights and not see God’s handiwork? However, when we are stuck in bed or our home, we can become separated from the beauty of creation.

There are ways for us to remain in touch with God’s beauty. We can watch amazing videos on YouTube. We might be able to see a special on PBS. Someone might send us a pretty bouquet of flowers or a plant to dress up our room. We may have an attractive view from a window or have the opportunity to sit on a patio or deck to feel the breeze and breath fresh air.

We can also see God’s beauty in those around us. See God’s beauty in those who care for us. See God in a genuine smile from another patient in the infusion center. See God in the laughter of a child playing. See God’s sense of humor in a bird which visits our window. Feel God’s touch in the snuggle of a beloved pet who joins us for some quiet time. Think of those things that happened today that showed some beauty. Can you?

Let us look to a great saint of the Church who knew his share of suffering who can help us find joy and beauty in all things. He changed his world and rebuilt the church, though he was no more then a poor beggar. Saint Francis was known for his love to all creatures and love for all peoples.

“Song, music, and poetry were so deeply a part of the nature of Saint Francis that in times of sorrow and sickness as well as of joy and good health he spontaneously gave voice in song to his feelings, his inspirations, and his prayers.”  (Francsican Friars TOR Website on the Canticle)

Saint Francis at the time of his bodily death, ravaged with disease and suffering, received this beautiful poem, the Canticle of the Sun. (a PDF to share and print) He shared it from the depth of his heart to the brothers gathered around him in perfect joy and praise. He praised God for the beauty of the earth from his death bed. He even praise sister death who he knew would visit him shortly.

In the clip below we hear some of the poem in the song from the Movie “Brother Son, Sister Moon.” Listen to the lyrics, they talk about him being preoccupied by self-misery. Being sick or caring for the sick, we are very familiar with misery. By focusing on the beauty in life and finding things to be thankful like Francis, we can focus on praising God outside the misery. It lifts our spirit and opens us to the gifts and graces that Christ, who loves us and desires to give so much more.

Clip from Brother Son, Sister Moon – YouTube Clip

This scene of the movie clip does not depict the death scene of this little Saint’s life. Shortly before this clip, Francis had an illness with a severe fever that almost took his life. When he recovered he received an overwhelming gratefulness for being alive. He left his father’s house to celebrate his simple but profound joy in what God was doing in him.

When one recovers from a long sick bed, it can be like seeing little things new for the first time. One can see the beauty in the simplest things and be grateful to be alive to enjoy them. The end of the clip depicts Francis’ call when he comes upon a little chapel in ruins and hears Christ’s mission for him to rebuild his Church. His sick bed became the beginning of a conversion that would change the world.

Moments of joy and thanksgiving even on a sick bed can work miracles in human heart. From such a bed, I received the call to start this blog. This blog is just the beginning of grace and gifts from God. This blog helps me to focus on things of beauty and on others, outside my own misery. I am appreciative for the little joys and things of beauty that have helped me on this long journey of discovery in my life.

No matter how much pain or struggle we face, we can find things to be thankful for. They do not need to be big things like a mission. They can be little things, like a smile from one we love, the beauty of a sunrise, the sweet smell from a flower, or warm purrs from a kitten. We too can experience little joys for the gifts, and graces God has given to us through the ordinary things of life. When one has a heart of praise, and one finds joy – Jesus may even surprise one with a beautiful gift.

Challenge for this Week: Think of those things you find wonder and awe in. Write a list of the graces and joys that God has given you in your life. Hold on to this list and add to it each day this week. Then save it with your prayer journal, bible, or in your bedside table. When you have a difficult day, pull the list out and reflect on the good things God has done.

Are you still struggling to find things to be thankful for? Watch a video that celebrates the beauty of the Earth, like funny kitten and puppy videos on YouTube (34 minutes of laughter.) Did you laugh despite the pain? How you do feel after laughing? Can you thank God that you could laugh and smile on a hard day? Keep working on having a grateful heart. Take it one day at a time, Jesus knows where you are right now. He wants to give you the gift of joy and gratefulness, just ask.

Pray This Simple Prayer: O God, You are never far from those who sincerely search for You. Accompany those who err and wander far from You. Turn their hearts towards what is right and let them see the signs of Your Presence in the beauty of created things. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Need More Joy? Watch below another beautiful song by John Rutter. So good for the soul and heart. Have a joy filled week. I am praying for you!

Look at the World – John Rutter

From YouTube Channel: Arendientje

Performed by: The Cambridge Singers