Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Things I've learned #2

So much for new series...I haven't lost my desire to write, nor have I failed to learn new things. In fact, I have been learning so much much that I have hardly had time to catch my breath.

Finding the time to write about what I am learning is the greatest challenge. Or perhaps knowing where to begin.

But tonight, exhausted as I am, I was given a beginning point that I cannot ignore.

I had worked a very long and busy day today, seeing patients almost continuously for 10 hours. I had perhaps 30 minutes of time free to try to eat something and make trips to the bathroom. I was truly worn out as I got in my car to drive home.

However, I knew that my last patient of the day was even more exhausted than I was due to severe sleep deprivation. As I was began the trip home, I prayed that she would make it home safely - and then added a prayer for my own safe travel as well.

Traffic was fairly light on I-77 North because of the late hour but I kept my eyes on the road. Suddenly, just ahead of me and rapidly approaching, were two cars stopped on the freeway. One was at an angle, as though it had just skidded to a halt to avoid hitting the one in front of it.

I braked immediately but, given my speed of 60 mph, it seemed impossible that I could stop in time. There was no time to even consider a lane change - it was just there in front of me now. As I was braking, I waited to hear the sound of crunching metal, thinking to myself, "I'm going to be in a car accident..."

But there was no crunching metal. My car came to a dead stop, literally inches away from the nearest of the two motionless cars. We were so close that I could not see any distance between our vehicles from the driver's seat. Apparently no one was hit or hurt - there was some debris on the road that may have caused the first car to brake - and the two cars just pulled away.

As I resumed my drive, I said thank you. Thank you to God, to all the angels and saints who were at my side through this experience.

I am reminded that it is always much easier to be aware of and grateful for the presence of the holy when the outcome is a happy one. Am I imagining that those drivers whose cars collide failed to pray, or that God chose to protect me but not them?

Not at all. Although I am very grateful that I was spared injury or death, as I look back the true gift was something else all together. In those moments where I saw the collision as inevitable, there was a peacefulness. There was a bit of natural adrenaline flow, of course, but I wasn't terrified.

It was as though I was noting that I was going to be in a car accident and, well...we'll wait and see what happens next...surely my car will be damaged, quite possibly I will be injured, but ultimately it will be okay.

My mind only had time to process that I needed to brake, do it and then watch the results. As fast as it happened, this brief moment in time was also long and sweet. How can this be?

Surely the scientists would have another explanation for it, such as that I was unnaturally calm because my brain had not had time to truly process the danger. And this may be so. But I also feel quite certain that this moment was so beautifully sweet because I was resting in the hands of God.

It is not as though I were praying during these crucial seconds - there was no time for that. And I believe that if the cars had collided, I still would have been safe in God's hands. And I am in God's hands at this very moment - as are you.

The gift is that now I truly know it. Whatever happens, however I feel, whoever or whatever hurts me, I am in His hands, ever safe, ever loved.

To Him be glory through all eternity.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Things I've learned...A new series

Episodically I seem to lose the urge to write. I don't feel drawn to write about anything in particular and my blog sits dormant for a few weeks. Often  it seems that I am thus afflicted during the summer months. I don't know why - I would like to write but nothing comes and then I feel bad for neglecting this, my small bit space of cyberspace.

However, I am ready to begin again (and, of course, to do penance for my sins of omission). So I have decided to begin a new series of posts. Because I am just beginning, I have no idea how long it will go on but it seems to have potential to continue for a while. 

I would like to write about things I've learned recently. And it feels like I have been learning a lot.

Many years ago, I frequently encountered a friend of a friend at parties. In the course of party small talk, he often asked the question, "Have you learned anything lately?" I always loved this question and loved reciprocating it. As an introvert, I didn't always find it easy to move past the obvious small talk to the deeper topics I enjoyed.

As it became almost a tradition to exchange the asking of this question, it became evident that it could be answered in many, many ways. I could comment that I had learned how to change a tire or I could relate that I had learned that it was more important to respect others' feelings than to argue my most dearly held political views. The possibilities were endless.

In keeping with this old tradition, my plan to is to post about things I have learned in recent times. Some of them may be light, others deeper - but all in the interest of sharing. I hope that what I have learned may be of help to you, my reader, but also that it my stimulate you to reflect on what you have been learning at this time in your life...

So here we go... I decided to start out a bit light...

Things I've learned: #1

Rhyming poems can be a lot of fun and still communicate something thoughtful. 

Aside from sonnets, which often seemed like too much work, for quite some time I had developed the notion that a "serious" poem should not rhyme. In other words, if I wanted people to take a poem of mine seriously, I should not have it rhyme. Rhymes made it seem too amateurish, like something a child might write because they thought all poems had to rhyme.

How utterly snobbish of me.

I have learned that poems can rhyme or not rhyme. People may or may not take them seriously. It is up to me to write what is given, whether in a spirit of fun or deep contemplation. Life needs both - and sometimes they walk hand-in-hand.

The other night, I was doing a little mini-retreat at home and had thoughts of how I would spend the time with God. However, I found myself so very tired that all I wanted to do was sleep. I walked out to my kitchen window and saw a number of moths and winged creatures lusting after the light bulbs hanging from my ceiling. 

The first line of a rhyme-y little poem appeared in my once weary mind and the rest of the evening opened up to words and images that were completed the next day. Nothing so terribly special - but important lessons contained within.

And so I am learning...

greetings little winged things
who to my windows cling!

each summer night we thus begin
as you flutter at the light within.

you think your joy will be complete
if this obstacle you can defeat.

but this, my little friends, is sin,
for the true barrier lies within.

so still your wings and end your strife;
turn to Him who gives us life.

rely not on your own poor might
but make His love your heart’s delight.

for when our wills to Him do bend
they find the joy that has no end.

(Look for more posts in this series - have I learned anything else lately?)