Sunday, October 14, 2018

Catholic Hermit: When a Hermit Must Move

This nothing consecrated Catholic Hermit has not written a post in awhile.  Matters with the temporal responsibilities of being alive in this realm became hectic!  With the finances dwindling and efforts increasing to finish renovating the Te Deum Hermitage (old farmhouse that did not nearly have all its problems divulged when purchased it over five years ago), the day came rapidly in which this hermit needed to move.

Ah, the old place was made new!  It looked lovely, and indeed it was much to the credit of the gorgeous trees I'd hauled from previous location (when it came time, enforced, to leave that Agnus Dei Hermitage) as mostly quite tiny specimens that caused a youngish but established man to fall in love with the gardens and charming farm house. 

Yes, it all turned out so beautifully--creating something lovely out of what had been wretched--and made even more so by the deception of a realtor, the bad inspector she recommended, and a usurious and bad contractor she even more highly recommended.  I do love it when the Lord brings good from not good!

So I was quite lopsided for a few weeks there, not only in continuing the recovery from my serious head injury but also in finishing touches and details in all that is involved in selling a property in our current time period on this earth, in this culture, within our temporal laws.

There were many miracles of which I have praised the Lord; and at the last day or two or three, there was also another ugliness that erupted which had not needed to by human reckoning.  Yet, it was quite human, the ugliness, and I know that my own human self was part of it as we always are whenever there is something of the human involved!  

I had to become quite firm, insisting on a matter that I wanted the buyer to be fully satisfied, for he and his agent had over two weeks to express a concern over a minor issue that had been corrected and corrected by code and quite well.   Instead, like the devil tends to do, there was last-minute upset of which my response was to slow down the rushed process and make all matters right.

My agent forgot who he was representing, or so it seemed, and I had to remind him that I must thus protect myself, and I insisted I wanted the buyer pleased and assured, and thus we needed to prolong the closing.  Of course, the agents nor the buyer did not want that; so they decided they were content with the minor corrections made, after all.

For pity's sake....  I recognized the ploy of the devil to try to disrupt; and my hermit platform of Nine S' which includes slowness was the correct response.  Just slow all matters, even if to the point of stopping.  When threatened that if I slowed the process, there would be a law suit, the only correct response was that I supposed I'd need to get a lawyer, then.

Mercy, what one must do as a consecrated Catholic hermit in order to maintain rightness in the temporal world!  Within an hour my agent called back to say the buyer and his agent were quite satisfied with the correction completed (for it was, and done rightly); and I responded that then we could go forward, and I'd be on my way early the next morning.

Admittedly, I did not at all like having to be firm, having to deal with such matters.  Yet, even a religious solitary in the life of the Church also lives in the life of the world!  Always there is a juggling act with that world, yet rightness must be maintained.  It would have been quite difficult remaining on until spring due to how the storms of fall and winter affected my damaged spine, and I'd have had to go more into financial straits.  But this is the way of the poor who cannot pay but minimum on a credit card, or who are "under water" financially, who try to pick up odd jobs if and when their bodies can manage to do any type of work, or who accept money from a family member or such, to tide through tough times.

I was thankful for the opportunity to contemplate such a situation, to consider taking in a boarder, or to be humbled to do what the struggling people do who exist all around us--who file bankruptcy or end up in homeless shelters.  Why should I consider myself above any of the poorest in our culture and temporal climate today?  Jesus humbled Himself to scrounging, wandering, accepting not having a roof overhead, and ultimately accepting the death of the indigent criminal:  Crucifixion!

Rather than any of that, the Lord delivered me from what I had mentally and emotionally accepted should the need be.  Perhaps in much of our life experiences, the Lord is waiting to see how we will respond to any given trial.  That might be the point of many of our trials.  I don't know, of course, the Mind of God, but I know that He sees and thinks in ways not usual for our human thoughts and ways.

Regardless, I had quite the adventure on the road with losing my way due to a cell phone losing power unexpectedly, and a wrong road number given me.  It was a beautiful journey, reminding me of blind trust in God and seeing the back roads and beauty of nature in an entirely different terrain.  I noticed the clouds in the sky as I drove along; and I realized that I'd been so focused for these past few years on what was set before me, that I'd neglected the freedom of no responsibilities and no concerns of paying the next bill but rather to noticed the simple GRANDEUR of God's great earth and sky!

I even ran out of gas!  First times can be fun times, indeed.  I had just enough cell power left to call someone who then contacted the insurance man with whom I'd just gotten a new policy for my pick up truck, Precious Blood.  Before too long, a young man in a pick up truck parked behind me on a vast stretch of interstate, and filled the tank with enough gas for me to follow him back to a burg off the beaten track.  We laughed, as he said this was the "first time" he'd ever had a call from an insurance company to come rescue someone!  Ah, the humor and connectivity of "firsts"cannot go unappreciated.

The one-pump town had a convenience store in which kindly clerks charged my phone battery enough so that I could get to my next stop, using the GPS.  I was thrilled to be out from under such financial direness to make a monetary donation to the tiny town's food pantry.  For too long I've had to make prayers for others my donation.  While that is maybe better--who knows in God's view?--what a joy to add some money to their collection container in the convenience store.

Now I've been at a relative's home for ten days, living in a small but comfortable guest room.  All my whatever possessions (1000 or so religious books in boxes, bits of furniture and eating utensils and religious artwork, some clothing that was used in the phase prior to this last phase and to be sorted and got rid of) are in storage.  I've not used the stuff in the past five or so years other than the garden tools and construction tools which I kept--thinking prudently in case I need them for whatever next hermitage.  I sold off quite a bit of "stuff" before I left Te Deum--amazing my adult son who thought it all worthy for the dump.  I gifted St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop with oodles of salable items, as well, and the boys and couple from the parish who helped me load the truck for a final time, received whatever they desired from my "stuff".

Stuff seems to be the best word for my earthly detritus of this and that.  Yet I am not mocking nor inappreciative of "stuff."  For a hermit with severe pain and difficulty sitting or standing in one place for very long, it is stuff that helps me do manual labor or keep otherwise limber and creatively engaged in practical and artistic ways.  It is through the distraction from pain that my deepest praying of a meditative and often times contemplative nature takes place.

So it is, that now after an initial week or so of looking around for a new hermitage, I am realizing on this Sabbath that the adaptation is more severe than what I had anticipated.  Somehow the housing thus far is so different from the land and spacious views of this past phase, and even of the sense of space in the one prior to this past phase although in a subdivision--well, I am feeling non-plussed about having to re-engage in the temporal aspects of which hermits very much must engage.  

We have to find a place to plop our bodies and what little stuff (compared to what most folks accumulate) we bring with us for whatever purposes we have in our individual lives.  For someone without severe back pain and who can engage in activities, creative stuff is not so important.  I have noticed all the more in these past ten days, with my back pain burning high--that in this type of environment there is far more driving and thus sitting to do the typical functions at least initially of getting oneself set up in another hermitage in some location.

I'm not sure I am up for what I most likely will need to adapt to--not quite yet, anyway.

The family members who so graciously gave me a guest room, are off for a few days, leaving me to pet sit which is a means by which I can be of use to them, saving their pets from boarding in a kennel.  Yet I have spent the bulk of it on the floor in the guest room, other than driving about yesterday to find a post office to mail a little something special to my dear spiritual father--just a treat for him until I am able to visit next month--body able and God-willing.

Then there were last week the doctor and dentist appointments, and now I await a hopeful appointment with a pain doctor--as this is the way of our times now.  A general practitioner no longer will deal with a chronic pain patient.  And the pain doctor will not automatically take a pain patient.  No, they will look at whatever the family doctor sends in what scant records, and the pain doctor will decide if he or she wants one as a patient.  And if so, the pained person is advised that no medications will be prescribed in the first visit.

I remind myself that not finding another hermitage right away is God's way of letting me consider that I may be more or less "floor-ridden" in my next and final phases of life on earth. (I can no longer sleep on even the most firm mattress, so I must use the floor as bed and place to write, such as I am doing now.  I had also taken my simple fare meals on the floor at Te Deum House, but here sit on the only wooden chair they have, at table, to eat whatever served, of which I try to help with cooking and clean up to make myself useful.  It would be rude to eat in the guest room, on the floor, for I also would not want to accidentally spill on their carpet.

Someone where I lived prior, who was purchasing some of my used but temporally useful "stuff", had asked me how it was a hermit could live where there would be a child?  I said when in transition, one must go with God's flow.  I was offered a temporary room and can be of help with pet sitting and whatever else asked or desired, and I am a grateful hermit guest.

Such matters for a hermit call upon one to be flexible and gracious, to be sacrificing in that of course, having one's own hermitage and spiritual reading and manual labor and solitude is desirable and needful, but God decides all.  Yes, God decides; His will be done; and the hermit remains malleable in God's determinations.

In fact, if no pain doctor will have me, if no pain meds allowed, then I may not be having my own hermitage at all!  There will be no travel to visit the spiritual father, nor to see the elderly aunt again, nor having a little plot to garden, nor a place to name as a hermitage other than perhaps a room as a type of blessed and comfortable hermitage as long as it has a floor upon which to lay my body down.

God bless His Real Presence in us!  The past two Sundays I've been back to spiritual, mystical Communions, such as what the Lord provided me up until a year and a half ago when the couple from the parish where I used to live, started bringing His Real Presence each Sunday.  Either way, God provides quite amply and beautifully of Himself to those who desire and seek His Love and remain thus in His Love.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Tending the Temporal

Been a week of this Catholic hermit's having to tend to the temporal.  More interfacing with those in business and my responsibilities of required paperwork, major decisions, and follow through to make the transition flow.

Electrician coming tomorrow as a favor, as his next couple of weeks filled with scheduled jobs out in civilization.  Mark's such a good guy!  The Lord has provided for me, with the few extremely good and trustworthy souls dotted in a sea of those in the temporal and business world who have veered some from well-calibrated moral compasses.

Just a half-hour of some minor fixes, of which I was going to do part of them.  Four outlets are registering as having "reverse polarity."  I was going to tend to that simple fix, myself, but upon removing outlet covers and pulling them out to have a look, they are wired correctly.  Via phone, Mark is surmising perhaps some minor glitch with the GFI outlet from which the other four are on same circuit.  If not, just an oddity.  I used my electric outlet detector, and it does show reverse polarity.  Strange.

Two brand new wall heaters in upstairs' bedrooms not turning on. Another oddity as they were operable three months ago, although never have had to use them other than making sure they worked.  At worse, will have to purchase two more--but likely a minor issue with a breaker in panel box needing to be joggled or replaced.

A couple hot wires to be capped, and some switch plates and box covers.  I might head under house to do that.  I think I have some spare outlet box plates around here.

In the midst of tending the temporal and interfacing with those whose lives exist nearly or perhaps fully in the temporal (I don't know the inner workings of anyone else's thoughts or souls nor do they know mine), prayer and penance continue to be pivotal and primary foci, in addition to praising God.

Prayer concerns never cease from being brought to my attention and desire to pray, thus, for each and all either via email or (rare) phone call, or from what I see through my little window to the world, this laptop, or from what the Lord Himself brings to me in dreams, visions or inner thought through out the day.  

Especially, this week, the interfacing with those people doing their business, has brought the need for all types of prayer concerns, as processes evolve and unfold.

A man this morning knocked at Te Deum Hermitage back door.  He had been seeking me out in the gardens, but I was at that moment inside.  He does not like leaving in clay pot his donation for whatever vegetables and/or fruit he wants from the produce table by the road; he prefers to give it to me directly, and in that way has a chance for a bit of conversation.  He so enjoys the interchange.  I can sense it easily with him, and he readily says he so loves the brief conversation.  He says I uplift him and make him laugh.  Well, I'm thankful to the Lord for using me in whatever ways helpful to humanity.

Am adapting--and it is a process--to returning to far less manual labor.  I must pray for guidance and wisdom in this, as too little manual labor is a detriment to my constant back and neck pain.  I will always have to do more than less; but the Lord has taught me how simply and lovingly He and I can communicate as prayer, while I garden or construct or plumb or wire or install insulation or do a dump run.

There is plenty of occasion daily and nightly for me to be in stillness and silence of body and mind, especially during days of pain siege or in the middle of the night, simply being awakened by my constant temporal pal, Pain, for a few hours of conscious time on the Cross with Jesus.

So many lines and sections of Scripture this week, also, have I been "tending".  Perhaps I will highlight some of them by writing the thoughts and applications they stir within my body, mind, heart and spirit.  Perhaps I will see what some other present moment, or day brings.  It is delightful to often and most of the time, hold dear and savor the Living Word rather than to go through the (although good and helpful) exercise of Scriptural exegesis.

His Living Word and His Real Presence are ever with us, as we are through, with, and in Him.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Another Adventure

Woke up yesterday with vertigo.  Ended up getting a ride to the major hospital to get brain scan, as needed to rule out not my brain bleeds leaking.  I never thought that was the case; but a produce table patron called her RN husband to come and advise, as she and another who saw me noticed I was not doing so well--vertigo and spacey feeling in head.

I attributed it all to my spinal column, especially the neck.  The shift in weather has thrown a major hindrance into my back and also head injury area.  As I consider "leaving pain", all the more there it was and needing to be addressed in a temporal manner.

The EMS guys were wonderful, as they insisted it best to return to the hospital that took the brain scans following the head injury.  I had been unable to return due to no means to get there for my follow up brain scan and neurosurgical consult.  The EMS guys pointed out if I went to an easier-access hospital for the scan it would need to be compared to the original brain scan. 

(I did need, of course, to know the status of the brain bleeds at some point and to be released to take the nsaid prescription medication that has helped my spine for years with inflammation amid the increasing arthritis build-up).

So off we went, and what a day it was in the ER of this huge medical center complex.  I'm too fatigued at the moment to write about what I heard and observed all about me, but I knew the Lord had a purpose in this dousing into fact and reality of the big world out there--beyond what I see, filtered, through this little window to the world, my laptop.

Ended up a type of vertigo and was taught via demonstrating with me as the object, means of balancing inner ear, by a doctor and the resident or intern doctors he was instructing in situ.  That seems, to me, the minor benefit of spending a long day there, surrounded by drug addicts (one cuffed on two limbs to her ER gurney and a policeman with her at all times) and homeless street persons, also drug addicts.  

Only toward evening did my "ER neighbors" switch out to a child with burns and an elderly man with wife accompanying.  He had hit his head a couple weeks prior but two days ago lost the ability to formulate words in any logical fashion.

Then while waiting for a taxi to get me as far as possible so a neighbor could pick me up without having to drive into the traffic-laden streets of mind-boggling metropolis, a street man who was hanging around the ER waiting area, was readying to expose himself and do an indecent sex act.  I went to the employee at the intake desk, and she said he'd done that the day before and she'd kicked him out....  But she gave him another chance today.

Lord, have mercy.  I pointed out there could be children and teen girls in the waiting area (and later, indeed, there were), and shouldn't a sexual predator be arrested and removed?  He was stalking me, for pity's sake, following me around, after he had approached with stating his desires and had I not stood up and walked away, was readying himself for indecent exposure.

Obviously, a very disturbed man, maybe or probably mentally ill, but...still...not right or good to be thus in public, among people with their physical ailments coming for help.  The employee said the police have worse things to deal with, and she'd call security.  I don't know if she did; a couple wandered through an hour or so later (cab was not aware of the FAX sent them by hospital to pick me up until another person waiting called the cab company and let me talk with them, as well).  

But the man then was deep into his cell phone.  Yes, a cell phone, although a shelter person; and I wondered why they did not check what he had on that phone that was of such interest, since he was known to the employee as having exposed himself and performed sexual act in public just the day prior.

Yet, the reality of so many homeless, mentally ill, drug addicted humanity would be a rather overwhelming task, especially when one officer was for his entire shift, sitting by an addict brought from jail for anxiety issues as she was "drying out" after being arrested.  At the end of his shift, a police woman arrived to take over the inmate watch.  She had been given various medications to try to calm her, yet all the while she wanted more of what not best to give her.  

But they did give enough of various levels of drugs to get the addicts somewhat calmed; one was admitted for hoped for help, and the other was going to be returned to jail upon release.  A third was still being treated for gashes and open wounds--some altercation on the streets.  He was asked what drugs he was on, and the young man had no qualms in stating, and the doctors took it in as daily matter-of-fact.

Well, it is daily, nightly, and matter-of-fact to the employees and the addicts.  A nurse told me this is typical and most of ER dealing with those who come in off the streets with drug needs or drug-related injuries and ailments.  Yet there were the few, such as my vertigo and brain bleed concern to be checked, the man with the head injury that evidently did not fare well even though he'd been to a couple other hospitals in the two weeks between his hitting and two days ago losing ability to verbalize in any logical word order.  The little girl also, was there with the burns from hot "play dough soup" she was somehow making with the use of a stove or some means powerful enough to pose a burn risk.  

In the ER waiting room were a few street people coming in wanting and needing (for addicts go through terrible bodily problems when they do not have their next "fix) drugs but many more were there with other injuries.  I was in but one small area of a vast ER, after all.  I heard some employee speak of gunshot victim coming in, and there would be the heart attacks, strokes, and car accident patients, the broken legs and arms, the high fevers, the seizures and whatever all else from all manner of the various ailments our human bodies can have.

Even the cab driver was a fascinating man from perhaps Lebanon or Egypt, and we had a marvelous conversation, as did the neighbor woman and I have when she picked me up in another world--quieter area in which to drive.

At least I got the follow up brain scan, needed, and the brain bleeds have gotten "a little bit smaller", the doctor said. I had no idea--thought they'd be gone by now.  But no, brain bleeds take quite a long time to heal, to be reabsorbed by the body.  Mine was described as going from front to back more along the mid-part of my head, the top but down in more, and not two distinct bleeds but rather more joined along the center between the two larger areas.  But I am able to take my anti-inflammatory prescription medicine again, praise God!

Of course, my issue is now all the more minor compared to what I was immersed in and with whom.  A couple nurses asked me how I was able to so well manage my pain, as they said these others are in pain of their own, as there are various types of pain for which people medicate with whatever means, or addicted as a form of pain in itself of wrong choices and stuck in a horrific mire.  But the nurses speaking to me about it, briefly, mused that I was able to manage my injury pain which worsens with age for physiological reasons,  and these others do not.  

I am blessed with education and have become rather an individual pain clinic, researching and reading and learning all manner of pain management techniques.  I take supplements and vitamins and use diet as means to help in any small way, am certified in clinical hypnotherapy, took doctoral coursework in psychology and most helped by the pharmacology courses, and keep up with what is new but also what is time-tried-and-true in medications.

But I also said, I am a contemplative, and I do my best to unite my sufferings with Christ on His cross.  Yet, I admitted that managing my pain is a major effort and life-work.  And I do not do that well, actually, and know it is only going to get worse, the pain, and I never know if I will be able to manage it or at some point, not.

I have been considering the thought I wrote previously, of "leaving pain" as an aspect of "leaving everything" to follow Jesus Christ.  Yesterday I did not leave pain but rather was immersed in it all the more not only with the added pain of my neck and back and the vertigo, but in being surrounded by magnitudes of human suffering in the ER which was as large in size and scope as are some total hospitals elsewhere.

Today is the day we Catholic Christians celebrate as the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I'm turning my thoughts to her as best I can, although the unexpected adventure of yesterday and all the nuances of the various persons I encountered, are with me as if floating in and out of the silence of my now lovely and peaceful hermitage.

Need to start unloading mulch from truck and then get to bank.  Finances have reached a snafu with a check not arriving in the mail; and the Visa bill is due now.  I consider that with the vertigo still not gone fully for now, working in the gardens is close to the earth, and the earth is not going to be a hard-fall but rather soft, giving, and cushioned. God provides!  

And the exercise will surely help my body to loosen itself which can only be helpful to the inner ear balancing those little tiny things in it that the doctor described as like grains of sand, that can get out of balance and thus need body-head positioning strategies to get them back in balance.

All is rather amazing, in life, truly.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Out-psyching?

Pondering and praying to be able to leave everything to follow Christ--including leaving pain--could be thought of as some kind of attempt to "out-psych" myself from such as today's intense nausea from radiating low back pain.

At least the thought crossed my mind, as I was intentionally and truly trying to "out-psych" myself by an attempt to self-convince that the nausea is not from the back but from stress of unknowns of my current, temporal situation.  So I forced myself to get up, dress, head outside to prune or whatever else of gardening tasks that abound.

But it did not work--the attempt to convince my mind and thus affect the pain level that it is pain of a psychological nature in this instance.  The low back is on fire for the most part, and thus the nausea a physical cause-and-effect.

Besides I've lived through far worse in living conditions and financial distress than currently.  The past over five and a half years I consider to be marvelous experiential detachment--a beneficial "death therapy" of sorts.  I was far more bothered initially and for the first couple of years here, after realizing how I'd been deceived by some folks here involved in the house sale and initial hired workers.  In fact, I learned a healthy distrust of contractors such as the companies who bid on insulating the hermitage.  

The insulation bidders measured and wrote up how much and what R-factor of insulation would be needed in upper attic space, slanted ceiling in upstairs' bedrooms and garret, and that for the vaulted ceiling in downstairs' living area.  When the morning came for the selected insulation contractor to come and blow in the insulation, they did what I learned through an unfortunate situation with a banker years ago--called a "bait and switch."  

A "bait and switch" means a price and service is proffered and agreed upon, but at time of service the provider switches the terms and conditions.  So when the insulation men said they'd need more payment and I'd need to clear out all the old shingles and dead rats from upper attic, plus they could not use the R-factor of insulation they previously had quoted, I said I would not need their business.  

They could not believe it, as I realized after the real estate situation here, I must seem like an easy push-over.  Yet I was firm, I was not going to pay more than what was agreed upon and in the contract.  Off they went.  I took the paperwork with the amount of insulation stated would be installed and the R-factors, went to Lowe's that I found out was having a sale on insulation.  I purchased the amounts the company had measured and figured.

In some instances, I had to get higher r-factor, which is all the better, but in the end, after doing the insulation install with my angel and His Real Presence, I had half the insulation to return to Lowe's!  Some trick, huh?  Had the company installed the insulation, I'd never have known the actual amount they were using nor how much they did not use although charging me (indeed, wanting to also over-charge me the day of planned install) for way more insulation than would even fit.

How I got off on this side-track--yes--was mentioning how I've benefitted by all the experiences and trials here in this place, despite how upsetting and difficult to endure in so many aspects--temporal and spiritual.  So out-psyching myself and trying to ascribe pain and suffering on other than the source of pain--back, neck and now head injury location--is not a winning means of overcoming pain.

But praying and pondering the Living Word of God, is a winning means of whatever God wills to grant in theological and all other virtues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, and all else of God's providence.  "Leaving everything" and following Christ, therefore, is a do-able possibility, and indeed a realistic truth.  Surely this includes "leaving pain" as much as leaving various aspects of "the world."

Leaving pain will not mean not feeling pain, not having pain sieges, not being laid up with pain or limited in activities due to pain.  But it means not being ruled by pain, not following, in essence, pain.

It is going to be all the more difficult to "leave pain" when I am soon to be out of pain meds, even if on lowest dose of lowest type and have been with benefit more than any other medications tried over the 34 years of constant suffering.  I don't want to be overrun by pain, nor bed-ridden, nor battling despair from too much pain.  I have no idea how or if God will somehow miraculously relieve some of it or help me "leave pain" as a portion of all the other leaving of everything, bit by bit and of that which hinders in all the more fully following Christ.

Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect surely is a process, a slow and steady wins the race process, for most of us, a bit-by-bit leave-taking of tangible and intangible "possessions", of which I consider pain to be a type of possession for it has shackled my body and often enough my mindset and attitude in trying to cope, for years.  This latter--I continue to pray to "leave"--pain affecting mindset and attitude.

Trying to "out-psych" pain is not at all effective nor long-lasting--not compared to the truth, beauty, and goodness of the power of God, of the Holy Spirit, of leaving everything in whatever aspects God wills and desires of us to be free to follow Christ.

Just my afternoon reflection on today's pain severity, now eased some, hopefully enough, so that I can get the body up and moving, stretching via pruning and bagging clippings and spreading some mulch....

Catholic Hermit: Leaving Everything

In today's Mass Gospel reading, the section concludes with the disciples leaving everything and following Jesus.

My personal battle with managing high levels of physical pain continues.  The weather is shifting, making the pain increase due to pressure system.  It is amazing that something so uncontrollable as weather, can cause so much pain and suffering in a body that has had major injuries in the past.

Yet it is so.  And medications are being denied many with legitimate pain due to the abuse of pain medications by those without physical pain.

My efforts to focus on Jesus Christ and Him crucified have been met with pain's efforts to disrupt my physical functioning and brain chemistry of which dopamine and endorphins are needed to help combat pain.  (Seratonin, as well, is needed, but somehow that is not a problem for me; meds prescribed that are seratonin-based create adverse effects.)

What is alarming to me is the fact that we aren't really in the storm-front season but merely in a time period in which the temperatures are lowering with greater divergence between night and day, and the moisture content is increasing, especially in morning.  I wake up sickened--nauseated, chills, head throbbing at the head injury area, spine from low back through neck in agony and radiating through to intestines and now also the lungs.  Breathing is rather painful, thus.

Yet, if I can battle the dark and despairing thoughts, the pain might lessen in a few hours so that by late morning or early afternoon, the body can get up and out to prune or as I was doing yesterday, remove the cobblestones that line the front, paved pathway to drive, pull out dead grass that somehow was able to live in the sand base, and replace the cobblestones to create a fresh and clean effect.

The results are beautiful, lovely!  And, when I am able to engage in even that simple bit of labor, my mind and heart and spirit tend to soar to some other realm in Christ, where peace and removal from bodily pain exist, and time does not.

It is just getting the body to that point of being able to get up and out, for the nausea and chills and head pain to lower enough to push through the pain.

I suppose, in a way, it is a form of "leaving everything to follow Christ."  Leave the body, in essence, leave the pain, to follow Christ.  One must be brought to that point of strength and determination, to detach and with courage--leave everything.  

Beginning with leaving some things, is a start, once one can bring oneself to the point of action of "leaving."

I have considered jumping ship here--leaving my hermitage and going to another area in which the climate is drier and not the barometric pressure shifts, or hopefully not as many.  Definitely not as many storm fronts that roll through in fall and winter, as here--there are other geographical areas, thus, or seem to be, although I certainly cannot and could not afford the most ideal climates for pain-ridden persons.

And now, there is the matter of property maintenance, but perhaps someone could arrange to have the grass mowed and to check on the cellar to make sure the sump pump is working properly.  Yet, financially I'd need to stay with someone, in a guest room or such.  That can be an inconvenience to those who have offered--of which only one or two are in areas of the country which would at least give a chance for this consecrated Catholic hermit's body to find out if the pain is lessened and thus manageable.

That brings up the issue of the silence of solitude; but of course the offer to me is from those who know I am a hermit, and my vocation is understood along with the vows taken now nearly 18 years ago.  I've also taken vows of suffering, prior to my hermit profession; and while the mind and heart can know well for what and whom my constant suffering is offered, the body and mind stumble and fall with the weight of the pain when it reaches the upper echelons of suffering.

Yes, I can think of Jesus Christ and Him crucified--pray to nothing nothing except Him and His suffering and death--but severe pain has a way of cutting the mind and breaking the heart.  Perhaps that is the point in which Jesus cried out to His Heavenly Father:  Why hast Thou forsaken me?

I've taken what I can of over-the-counter and one of the diminishing and non-refillable pain meds; I've drunk of the cup of day-old coffee, strong and microwave-hot.  I will see about getting up if the radiating pain into stomach simmers down and try a can of Dr. Pepper--of all things!  I've found that the sugar and caffeine do help at least a little.  Have consumed the supplements that are known to help with chronic pain--lots of vitamin D and B-Complex, turmeric, B-6 and 12, glucosamine chondroitin, fish oil, magnesium, calcium, and several others.

Must pray to leave this pain, give it a try, as noon approaches here at Te Deum Hermitage.  I must persevere in suffering, knowing that the Lord is with me and I with the Lord, no matter what.  Leaving the temporal stuff is not a major struggle in this phase of my life; I have gained a spirit of detachment to a point that I can do without yet am not bothered having that which is given for our convenience and ability to exist without becoming a burden or expense to others.  

There is a point in detachment from the temporal in which one does not care, either way, but accepts objects that are part of daily life--shovel, watering hose, sleeping bag, blanket, pillows, vitamins and other supplements in order to cooperate with whatever will help us live our lives.  Food, shelter, some money to pay our own way, a computer, telephone--whatever provides the usual means of getting along in the temporal realm--vehicle, gasoline, and insurance coverage, licensing fees paid.

Yet the ability to leave everything and follow Jesus runs far deeper than the temporal aspects of leaving.  More, we have to accept the burdens of living in society--and I call them burdens for in essence possessions are that, at least at some point in our journeys...seem as such.  Leaving pain is something less literal and not so tangible.  I will pray for that leave-taking, now, and take the step to get up and see how it goes with this body given me and all the suffering God is allowing in this present moment.

As for leaving everything, while the disciples left their families and careers and homes in a more literal sense, they still had relationships, pain, trials, interactions with one another.  Ultimately, though, they did leave absolutely everything--those "things" that are non-tangible and more esoteric.  Eventually, they left their bodies in physical death.  It is a process, and that process like all matters for us followers of Christ, are ordained and meted out in God's will and His form of timing.

God bless His Real Presence in us!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Scrutinizing

Awoke in the middle of the night--once more by my constant pal, Pain.  At least pain has loyalty and desire to be with me--body, mind, heart and probably also spirit, after 34 years of pain.  Sometimes it is higher level than other times, and now is a higher level time period.

It takes much to get the mind off rather severe pain.  The pain makes the entire body feel ill, and now the pain has increased at the point in my skull where the major impact of the head injury occurred, eight weeks ago today.  It stands to medical reason that the barometric pressure shifts, now with the change of seasons upon us, that this new area of injury would react with increased pain just as the spine reacts from low back through neck--radiating pain out through the nerves to various parts of the body.

With the pain medicine crisis in the country now, due to people being irresponsible and those who do not have physical pain but want some kind of doped experience, my suffering is on the increase.  Before long, I will have to go totally without medical aid for the pain other than if I can once more take "nsaids"--anti-inflammatory medicine which helps minimally.  But I accept with gratitude minimal pain aid.  Due to the two brain bleeds, I cannot take any medication with nsaids in it.

So we see that this old, pained, consecrated Catholic hermit has pretty much scrutinized the pain situation for years.  There is a dread of what will be in a few weeks, without pain medication, exacerbated by how it is in the present moment with pain medication but the shifting pressure fronts that promise to increase with fall and winter upon us.

My recourse in the middle of the night, was to leave off scrutinizing the pain situation and turn to Jesus Christ and His Living Word.  He will be my only hope, and frankly has been my only hope, all these years of my life.  So I turned on this little window to the world and read today's Mass readings in the temporal darkness of 3 a.m., and lo and behold I found truth and the power of God, as always in the first reading of 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16.

"The Spirit scrutinizes everything,
even the depths of God."

So true!  I ask the Holy Spirit within me and me within the Spirit, and I thank the Holy Spirit for scrutinizing all, even the physical pain and the current situation regarding pain medication for those legitimately suffering, as well as the terrible problem for drug addicts and the addicted children they birth, as well as all the crimes and deaths connected with illegal drugs and addiction.

The reminder comes to me from the Spirit to let Him scrutinize all.  I don't need to take that task upon me, ruminate or fret.  I know the situation, for it is the Spirit that scrutinizes all--lovingly and with perfect understanding, knowledge, and wisdom of God.

"Among men, who knows what pertains to the man

except his spirit that is within?"

Ah, now this is important for all of us humans.  How dare we presume to think we know, or to project from our scrutinizing of others, what pertains to that or any person?  Only the spirit within that person knows what  is within the person.  Face it, we don't know, no matter how intelligent we think we are or no matter how we want to twist facts or imagine what is going on in another's body, mind, heart, spirit--in daily life or within the spiritual life of that person?

We don't.

"Similarly, no one knows what pertains to God

except the Spirit of God."

Somehow it seems easier for us humans to accept and live with this truth--that no one knows what pertains to God except His Own Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  I must remind myself of this truth when I am unfortunately and quite humanly more in a temporal mode.  When I am trying myself to figure out--such as what is God doing--heading me into what will be terrible pain with no medical recourse and worsening with age?  What is God doing or thinking, allowing some circumstances and situations of which I do not understand?  Well, we all know how we can get into trying to figure out why God allows and does this or that.

But not for long, at least for me.  Within moments when I start down that path of trying to figure out from a temporal standpoint, what pertains to God (and not just in why He does or allows or disallows something in the temporal or even spiritual realm), I am thankfully shifted into a spiritual mode--reminded by my angel and transformed by the Holy Spirit to recognize that the Holy Spirit of God knows, and I do not need to take it on or be concerned.

"We have not received the spirit of the world

but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand the things
freely given us by God."

That is, I do not need to have answers if I am in the Holy Spirit; but I fall into the snare if I am in some way or form in the mode of the world.  Once I am reminded (if I am caught even by a thread) that I have received the Spirit who is from God, then I am opened to the possibility of understanding the things given of God.  And the word "may" is crucial in this section of God's Word.  We "may" understand the things freely given us by God.  What we are given to understand is God's choice.  But what we can always understand is that He will give us what we need, not necessarily what we think we need or what we think would be best, nor what we want.

"And we speak about them not with words

taught by human wisdom,
but with words taught by the Spirit,
describing spiritual realities in spiritual terms."

This is a helpful point.  How do we describe or speak about things of God, of the Spirit who is from God, of the understanding things that are freely given us by God?  Only by means of the Holy Spirit, only in ways we are taught by the Spirit, can we speak about what we come to understand of that which is freely given us by God.  Only in and through and by the Spirit of God, can we describe spiritual realities in spiritual terms.

And this should be quite obvious, for see how many words I've used trying to understand, and think how many more times I might awaken in the night in severe pain, and might slip into scrutinizing what is not mine to scrutinize...until I am reminded that I have received the Spirit of God.  And to stay clear of the spirit of the world.  Let the Holy Spirit teach me, interpret, comfort, inform, and explain so that I may understand God's will and purpose in all things.

And stay clear of scrutinizing, especially others.  Another form of that warning is to stop judging.  Do not assume that through any amount of scrutiny, we can presume to know what is going on in the life of another, what is within his or her circumstances, daily life, thoughts, emotions either temporally or spiritually.  Only the Holy Spirit of God knows, and it seems to me that we don't need to know.  Not our business.  At least not mine, lest I forget the times I've thought or been tempted to, or acted otherwise.  

I have enough, with myself, to be reminded and know in truth and faith, that I have received the Spirit of God.

God bless His Real Presence in us!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Catholic Hermit: Thinking with Head v Heart

In my previous post (to Know Nothing), I did not delve into the aspects of thinking with the head and thinking with "the heart".

St. Paul did say that while among the people of Corinth, he did wanted to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified, and went on to expound upon not speaking sublimely from human wisdom but rather to demonstrate to them of and with the power and spirit of Christ.

I have this dilemma of which most of us might, in that in our temporal lives, we do tend to think with our heads primarily, or at least there is the temptation to do so.  I was needing to get myself out of a difficult situation (i.e. an old farmhouse/hermitage not as it appeared, having been misled by a Catholic real estate agent and the (I learned later) nice but incompetent house inspector she enlisted, plus a disreputable contractor whom she highly recommended.  

In the five-plus years it has taken to turn the place around from needing to be gutted to now a lovely dwelling that took all my finances and then some, I did have to use what we might call human wisdom, or at least my intellect, use my "head", to learn all manner of construction terms and skills.

Yet, as I am easing back into predominately the spiritual purpose and realm of which thinking with the heart--or as St. Paul would put it to know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified--or to rely upon the wisdom that is actually the power and spirit of Christ--I am wondering about a thought that came to me while hooking up the water source hoses to  the soaker hoses this morning.

It is tempting to consider wisdom in two parts:  worldly and spiritual.  I did so, in essence, in referencing how my mind had to learn to think in terms of construction skills, measurements, facts, how-to instruction in plumbing, electrical framing, siding, insulating, drywalling, tiling, painting, and window/door and stairway installation.

My mind seemed to have to switch gears--back and forth--between temporal and spiritual.  When, all along, perhaps it did not need to do so.

What if I knew nothing except Christ and Him crucified all along?  What if I did not think in terms of words but rather in demonstration via the wisdom and power of God?  Could it be that the temporal needs and activities would have unfolded and been accomplished as well or better than  as is sometimes said, I'd "put on my thinking cap"?

I am reminded of years ago--23 this past July, in fact, when the Lord made it clear to me with temporal proof, that I'd bi-located (traveled in spirit but also in actuality) in the night to a nearby city and had been in my uncle's hospital room in the night.  

The purpose of God allowing the bi-location seemed to have been as an act of charity, so that I could comfort my ailing uncle but also to help his sisters (my mother among them) who had been to see him the day before but were going to return the day I awoke having been "away in spirit" during the night.  (Also, I realize now years later, that the experience helped me grasp and cooperate with other such bi-location events since then.)

I awoke in the morning hearing the words being pronounced emphatically:  Think with your heart!  Think with your heart!  Think with your HEART!"

I realized in faith and surely with the wisdom and power of Christ, that I truly had been in that hospital room where my uncle had been tied down to his bed--something that his sisters had not known nor mentioned in their talking after they returned from seeing him prior.  I knew from within that I was to gently tell them that they would find him thus, that day, however, and not to be upset by this change in his circumstances.

One aunt in particular was adamant that was not so, and my mother, also, said no, he was not tied down and why would I even think or suggest it?  However, upon their return from visiting him in the hospital that day, my mother came to me and apologized, and said when they arrived, her brother (the first of eight siblings to be terminally ill) was restrained.  The nurse told them it was to keep him from pulling out his IV's and oxygen.  My mother said it helped them to not be shocked, for I had mentioned it even if they thought I was somehow ridiculous in suggesting such a thing.  She asked how did I know?

I told her, and she trusted in the numinous experience the Lord had allowed.  My mother always did seem to trust, usually sooner than later, what I had to say regarding spiritual matters.  She had the capacity to experience the type of faith that comes by the power and spirit of Christ.

While out hooking up soaker hoses a bit ago, and pondering the thought that perhaps the mind and heart do not need to be separate when it comes to faith, the idea of knowing nothing except Christ and Him crucified took on greater significance.  I will continue to pray about it, and to listen, and to ask for more faith of the power and spirit of God.  

Maybe thinking with the heart, in essence and for those who can grasp the numinous aspects of this, is far more inclusive and potent of all thought and knowledge, so that the temporal "things" we think we need to be thinking about, do not need to be so focused in our intellect.  

Perhaps we do not need to switch our brains back and forth from head to heart and heart to head--as this is the way I now am trying to describe it.  Perhaps we ought give over to "thinking with the heart" in the way St. Paul was describing knowing nothing except Christ and Him crucified, and to demonstrate the power and spirit of Christ rather than think or speak in sublimity of human words.  Perhaps in this union, it is a thinking with Christ's Head and Heart!

Well, just sharing.  Trying to clarify if some take objection to knowing nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified and letting faith in the power and spirit be our head and heart in daily and nightly temporal life, with the intellect flowing and unfolding from that faith.  Come to a oneness in spirit and union with Christ, and we will function  in the temporal, far exceeding human wisdom and words.

God bless His Real Presence in us!