Breathe in deeply.

Over the last six weeks, what with pneumonia, then bronchitis, and menstrual flow for 22 days (and counting) I’ve been struggling.  Being as small as I am (58 pounds) with a twisted torso from scoliosis and weakened respiratory muscles – oh, and that whole spinal-muscular-atrophy-never-walked-can’t-move-my-arms-anymore thing – everything is just harder.  I thank God for the improvements, truly, deeply, and pray that no more difficulties may come – all the while knowing that there are so many people out there who have it so much worse.

And I’ve been thinking… Through the choking on mucus, pain and bleeding, shortness of breath… Don’t I believe in God’s will?  I have prayed that only God’s Positive, Perfect, Holy, Ordained Will be done.  Not God’s Permissive Will, the things that aren’t part of His ideal plan, but that He will make work out for the best, but God’s Perfect Will, what He ideally wants.  If being sick is exactly what God intends for the perfection of my life-never-ending, then so be it.  God sees the Big Picture, which I cannot, as I’m stuck in the little details of the day – and the Big Picture is an exquisite Masterpiece.

Now, I say, “So be it” or “Thy will be done” – but, do I mean it?

If I mean it, then I should not only thank God for the times of improvement – pneumonia cleared up, the bronchitis just one – but also thank God for the new difficulties: the ongoing cramping, bloating that makes it hard for me to breathe and causes my heart to race, the loss of blood, the anxiety that there may be something terribly wrong in my reproductive system, whatever new cold might pop up.  I should groan and nearly scream in pain, I should struggle for air, and I should say, “Thank You.”  And I’m serious here.  I’ve tried it, and I have to say, it’s much easier said than done.  I believe in the principle, I believe it’s a good thing to do, to be grateful for God’s Perfect Will… But, it’s another struggle.

I am trying to learn everything that I can from this trial and these tribulations.  I really do believe that there is a treasure here for me to discover, that there is richly useful knowledge and experience for me to going.  As a character said recently on a television program called Nashville, “Pain is valuable.”  That’s true for country music writers, but it’s also true for all writers and artists.  Perhaps, it’s true for every human being.  I know it’s true for me.  All of this will bring me closer to my Creator, into a more deeply and personal and intimate relationship with my Savior.  Thus united and connected with God in my heart, I can then better be inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit to receive God’s love and wisdom into be creative, to share the reality of Christ and the glory of God with others.

Being grateful for pain is extremely difficult and, being only human, I don’t know if I can really do it.  But, there is another little lesson that I have learned in all of this, a practical one that is slightly easier to do, but no less important…

Even though it’s more difficult to breathe because my body hurts so much, I have to take good care of my lungs and stay healthy.  So I have learned, and I continually remind myself, that, even when in pain, I must breathe in deeply.  And this does feel something like gratitude…

That’s the lesson I’m sharing here in this post today:

Even when in pain,

Breathe in deeply.

© 2017 Christina Chase


This post explains my long absence from writing here…

Life is fragile.  All of life on earth must come to an end.  And there are thousands of ways in which the mind and body can be tortured.  Suffering is very real.

And yet, I say, life is beautiful.

Most of 2017 has been very difficult for me so far.  An ambulance came for me on the ninth and I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.  Breathing takes extra effort for me anyway, with my little crippled up body, my torso twisted and deformed by severe scoliosis, my muscles weakened by my motor neuron disease – add an infection with lung inflammation to that and the act of breathing becomes the main focus of every waking moment.  Thank God, the pneumonia cleared quickly and I was released from the hospital on the thirteenth.  I knew that recovery would be slow, with continued coughing and weakness, but, slowly, I was beginning to recover.  I was so happy.  And then, on the 26th, I started a cold.  A cold with a cough.  It became a bad chest cold.  And I knew that my period was coming, which is often painful, with vomiting and very heavy bleeding that leaves me anemic and even more tired and weak.  I was scared.  I dreaded what would happen and how much my little body could take.  The mucus was too thick for my poor little lungs and chest to cough up and out, so that it blocked my airway many times.  Although, always, thankfully, for just a short period.  Before accepted Christ, a similar airway distress would freak me out and put me into a panic.  But, now, God helps me to remain calm.  By the grace of God, I soldiered through even though I was completely exhausted.  I’m still exhausted, still coughing, still bleeding, still choking up a little at times, but the medicine is working, God is good, and I do believe that I will get through this virus and be able to breathe without thinking so much sometime soon.

But, the fact is, when I first composed this piece in my head, I wasn’t sure at all.  I thought that I would die.  That’s not a dramatic thought.  I came close.  It doesn’t take much for this little body to go over the edge.  And it scares me.  In less than a month I caught pneumonia and then bronchitis – and I’m scared about what else can happen.  I know that we all have to die sometime, but I don’t want to leave.  Staying alive is so strenuous, so terribly difficult sometimes, as I know it is, even more so, for so many people…

And still, I maintain, life is beautiful.

It must be beautiful if I am so unwilling and scared to leave it.  I love life and I love my family – my mother and father, my sister and brother-in-law, my two nephews – more than words can say.  And I have a big family beyond that, too, and friends.  I know that they will grieve when I die.  I don’t want to leave them and I don’t want to think about them dealing with the heartache and sorrow of my loss.

Jesus suffered on the cross.  He was filled with agony and dread, was tortured in mind and body and died in pain.  He didn’t have to suffer and die.  God chose to become a human being, to become one of us and suffer with us.  Why?  Because life is beautiful. Jesus chose to suffer torture and die for love.  Redemption.  Resurrection.  For the eternal life of every person.  Because life is good and love never ends…

If I could see the beauty in my own suffering, perhaps, then, I wouldn’t fear it so much.  If my loved ones could see the beauty in my own death, perhaps, then, they will not mourn it so much.

God help us.

If I am able to continue writing, look for more posts exploring life and death, sharing the things that I need to tell my family and the world before I go…

© 2017 Christina Chase

Wisemen Still Seek Him

wise men still seek him

Everybody wants something.  Whether desiring wealth, pleasure, power, health, approval, comfort, freedom, or happy love, very few of us would rest content saying that there is nothing that we want.  Because to want is to lack.  We are all found wanting, because we are all lacking.

The only people that I have heard who sound to be truly content, wanting nothing, are Continue reading

Christmas Cycle

One Christmas Eve, after placing a small figure of baby Jesus in its resin manger at our house, my then 4 or 5-year-old nephew asked, “But… is he… alive?”  So much was said in his look of perplexity and disbelief – If Christmas is Jesus’s birthday, then where is he?  Shouldn’t he be growing up by now?  Also… if he was born 2000 years ago… then, maybe he should be dead – right?  Then why do we act like he’s a little newborn baby?  What is this weirdness???

Nativity scene, Christmas, Jesus in manger

Of course, there is something to be said about the Eternal Now, as well as our preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord – but that something is said in other places, I’m sure, with more scholarly expertise.  What I want to reflect upon in this post is the beauty and power of the newness of our celebrations – every single year. Continue reading

Gathering Stars

Wishing everyone a Blessed Christmas and offering you this poem from decades ago.

May you be filled with the wonder of God Among Us – for the Word of God, the Lord of the Universe, was made Flesh for each and every one of you, for your healing redemption and eternal joy…

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run

Gathering Stars

My mother gathers stars.  Continue reading

All the Smells and Ills

We hear a lot about the “spirit of Christmas” and the “meaning of Christmas” this time of year, on movies and musical specials, in commercials and greeting cards. Commercial interpretations, no matter how heartfelt, always leave me wanting. In this post, I am sharing again what Christmas is – the whole utter shock of it.

Divine. Incarnate.

The human body isn’t always pretty. Oh no. We all suffer, or will suffer, from one weakness or another, aches and pains and afflictions of countless kinds. Sometimes, just the things we do daily to survive – chewing, toileting, washing away sweat, dirt, and dead skin from our bodies – as well as being around those who might not wash themselves so well… let’s just say that there’s nothing pretty about any of this. Nothing romantic, lyrical, or ennobling.

And, yet…

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A few words about joy.  Well, okay, more than a few…

I used to think that Catholicism was very dour, celebrating solemnities (solemn celebrations?) bemoaning sin and life in this world.  This was a false picture of the Catholic Church, however.  Sadly, I’m not the only one who has had this misconception of Catholicism – probably millions do right now.  The error, I think, comes partly from human attempts to depict the Mysterious Majesty of God and the profound honor, respect, awe, and even submission, due to God.  When contemplating the Immaculate Conception of Mary, for example, we don’t do so with silly giddiness or casual interest.  We must do so with solemn reverence and humble, awestruck gratitude – so, also with joy.

One problem, it seems to me, is that it’s hard to find an ancient image of Mary smiling.  (If you know of one, please share!)  Smiles probably didn’t mean the same thing then as they do now.  But, let us remember that the Bible does speak clearly of joy.  Mary herself cries out to Elizabeth, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”[1] Mary rejoices.  And so should we.

I do like this modern (1873) Greek icon of the Most Holy Mother of God…

Greek icon Mary Mother of God

Today we observe the “Solemnity” of the Immaculate Conception (celebrating the Mystery of Mary being conceived in her mother’s womb without the stain of Original Sin, so that she may truly be The New Eve).  And Gaudete Sunday (the Third Sunday of Advent) is being celebrated this weekend.  So, truly, it’s a fitting time to reflect upon the importance of joy in our lives of faith.  With the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love, must also come the gift of joy – for how can we not be joyful when we believe that we are made to know, to love, and to serve God in this life and to be happy with God forever?  With this faith and hope we are free to love – and in the true freedom of loving others and knowing that we are intimately and infinitely love there is true and lasting joy. Continue reading