The Navajos and Saint Patrick

I’m having difficulty with a prayer that is suggested on the televised Mass on Catholic TV. The part that makes me go hmm is “Jesus I love you above all things”…. Hmmm…

Do I? I want to, I know that they should, that it is my ultimate joy, but… I love my family so much, and my close friends, and I want to mean what I say and pray, so I don’t know that I can honestly say that I love Jesus more than them. But, then, I started thinking…

Definitely, I have particular affection for these individuals in my life, I love them dearly, but, what do I love in them, through them, and beyond them…?

Truth … Beauty… Pure, innocent goodness… Love.

Aren’t all these Christ?

I’m sharing this post that I wrote on another Saint Patrick’s Day exploring the deep and profound mystery of Christ…

Beauty Ever Ancient, Ever New…

Divine. Incarnate.

Unknown to each other, unheard of in distance of time, their two lands with what might as well be a universe than an ocean between them, men with spiritual eyes and spiritual ears walked the selfsame way of pilgrimage.  From the Navajos (as retold by Joseph Campbell):

Oh beauty before me, beauty behind me,

beauty to the left of me, beauty to the right of me,

beauty above me, beauty below me,

I’m on the pollen path.

From a prayer, known as the breastplate of Saint Patrick:

I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.…

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ…

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Trust in You

Trust is not something that I’m very good at.  I like to be in control, feeling that I can manage the outcome to my liking.  But, of course, I can’t always do that.  Some things are out of my hands – almost everything is out of my hands.

When I first became a Christian, I was actually glad that I didn’t control everything.  It was a relief to know that I wasn’t responsible for everything that happened in my life and the lives of my loved ones.  I can’t say that it was a relief to know that everything is in God’s hands – that actually scared me quite a bit.  But, if anyone is going to be in control, it should surely be the Creator and Master of the Universe – the One who knows best.

During my recent health odyssey, my problem with trust was made clear again.  I prayed for recovery, for the end of new illnesses – but I also worried every time a new illness appeared.  Legitimate concern is not a bad thing at all, for I do need to think about my body and make good decisions on taking care of it.  But, worry – well, there is no room (and really no need) for worry in the life of a person of faith.  And I worried a lot.

Sometimes, a song, poem, book, movie, or TV show can challenge our faith and inspire us to a better and closer relationship with God.  I discovered the song below during my health odyssey (which is not quite over yet) and it cut to my heart.  It is a challenge for me in my struggles – and a good inspiration to trust…

“Jesus, I Trust in You…”

© 2017 Christina Chase

Expire

Now, breathe out…

 

“His body is letting him down.”

We say this about a person who is getting old or becoming sick with an incurable disease.  Why?  Isn’t the end of life death?  Are we not all born to die?  We know that death is inevitable – so why do we treat it like it’s not?  Why do we act like our bodies are supposed to remain young and healthy forever – and then, when they begin to age or weaken through illness, why do we act as though we have been betrayed?  Betrayed by whom?

Nobody is promised endless youth and health.  Nobody is promised a life that won’t end with physical death.  Nobody.

It’s like we’re all delusional, in a way.  Some say that religious people suffer from wishful thinking – but, it seems to me that almost everyone in mainstream culture is suffering from that.  In my experience, religious people know that suffering happens.  Death is coming.  Catholics are certainly reminded of this quite often, invited every day to contemplate the suffering and death of Christ, uniting our sufferings with his, gazing upon the crucifix.  And every year, when the Lenten season begins, we (and other Christians) have ashes put on our foreheads and are told “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  Suffering happens.  Death will come.  Not even God Incarnate lived a human life without it.  Continue reading

Inspire

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 gone – 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 gain.  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 and to 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

Air

 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 I 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…

See especially Inspire and Expire to continue the story…

© 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