Last evening was too wearied to attempt to rewrite some thoughts on the anxieties of daily life that we humans encounter to varying degrees, and Jesus' warning thereof. Whether or not hermit in the consecrated life of the Church or lay person or priest in holy orders, or religious brother or sister in consecrated life of the Church, or member of a third order or institute of the Church, or evangelical or agnostic, etc.--we each can fall snare to being distracted by daily temporal obstacles.
I also had written (but lost the bulk of the post!) about medical issues that hermits may face, particularly in varying life circumstances be it accidents, illness, or the natural aging process. Thus it is that today I must drive to civilization for an appointment with an eye specialist, as I noticed recently on way to a monastery's vespers, that I have peripheral light flashes when I turn my head.
With a bit of research, I learned that this requires immediate examination by a specialist, yet it could be that which is connected with age and the drying out of the eye's vitreous and/or corneal layer. Or, it could indicate a hole, or a retinal tear. Since my eye sight has declined some, I must do what I must in eye care.
Then I wrote of the recent increase in physical pain level regarding my spine and the difficulty in managing severe pain. I have noticed it is directly correlated with shifts in barometric pressure, moisture in air, such as brought on by storm fronts. The pain can become unbearable, causing my mind and emotions to be overloaded with efforts to maintain.
With severe pain, and over years of it, the brain chemistry is strained. Certain chemicals become taxed and stripped, such as dopamine and endorphins; the seratonin levels can be affected as well. This is much like someone with diabetes, whose pancreas and liver is no longer producing proper amounts of insulin.
I recently tried to explain this to a cousin who suffers greatly from diabetes and had major amputation and now sight impairment as a result of not monitoring nor seeking earlier medical help. She had commented on pain medications and was confused between addiction and dependency. In terms for a diabetic, one becomes quite dependent upon insulin but is not addicted to it. There is no "high" involved in taking the medication. Her pancreas and liver will not begin to increase proper amounts again so she is on insulin for life and may need increased amounts as she ages.
For one with severe chronic pain, of which the cause has been ascertained in the past and all means of correction were made and all other modes of management in place, the person may require pain medication which helps dull the pain receptors and does the work that the brain chemicals would do if they were fully operational. Over time, the brain is not able to produce enough to work properly. There are medications that help make up for that lack, but the side effects can prohibit their use especially in older patients.
So it has been that this wearied, suffering, consecrated Catholic hermit has had a difficult time with the increase of pain from the weather shifts. It has helped in grasping the unfolding of my vocation, actually, and in understanding the necessity of more prayer and focus, all in balance with trying to keep the body mobile and doing some manual labor as well as the benefit of not many close relationships.
The latter may seem strange, or not quite acceptable, but the reality is that there are few who can cope with the vicissitudes of severe pain and how it impacts the body, mind, heart and spirit at times. One fights bias and some medical ignorance, and I recently am reminded that my mission is not to educate others on such facts but rather to continue in prayer and praise of God, in the hiddenness and silence of solitude that suffering, also, can appreciate and be appreciated by His Real Presence, as well.
For one to truly listen and commune with the Lord, there is nothing quite like deep suffering to draw one into union with Christ on His Cross. The Cross becomes a shared experience in which the body, mind, heart, and soul of a human being can meld into His Real Presence and grasp the tremendous love with which He suffered on earth as well as the aspects in which He suffers now, of sorts, of a spiritual sort as He knows all that is transpiring in souls in this world, in this time and place.
As for anxieties of daily life, yesterday the cabinet installer arrived early in the morning to complete the kitchen cabinet install job. This has been on-going with many odd obstacles since June 6. He entered, pulled out the trim boards, noted the replacement cabinet that Lowe's finally agreed to order since the employee continued to order ones not tall enough for proper microwave height above range. He went out to back his truck in closer for better access to his tools and while doing so received a phone cal from the police.
His employee who was driving the installer's second truck, had been in an accident. "Doug" was needed to immediately return to civilization due to "Chris'" accident. It did not seem good that Chris did not call, but rather the police did. The installer apologized for needing to leave, which was kind but unnecessary under the terrible circumstances. He said he has NEVER encountered anything close to the obstacles that we have had with my cabinet install.
I responded that this is pretty much how my life goes in all aspects of it, with an abundance of trials and obstacles, many of odd nature, and that this is part of a mystic's existence--and added if he knows what is a mystic. He said he did, and I said this is my main work: to pray for the souls surrounding the trials and obstacles, for perhaps the main reason for his arriving this morning was that I would know to pray for Chris.
I sent him off with a tin of Love of God Bourbon Balls, and my assurance of prayers, and that I'd let him know my plans for if my pain continues to yoyo so severely with what is now being touted the worst winter in years in my remote locale, that I may need to leave for a couple or so months to stabilize the pain situation.
Later in the day I contacted the priest in monastery close by, and I mentioned I may need to leave for a family member's home which is in a different climate. He mentioned that there is no way to drive currently due to road conditions, and suggested I close off the stairwell with plastic sheeting as my hermitage downstairs' is quite nippy. Will do. He also mentioned getting a different doctor, of which I already have made arrangements as when in remote areas, doctors and nurse practioners come and go seemingly more rapidly, and there is not continuity.
I had to laugh a bit at my temptation, yet, to escape the hardships and the work, to avoid the greater suffering included. So I bucked up, bundled up more, and got to work in here. Soon it was too dark to do much more, and artificial light not so great, either, in here. In a couple of days am supposed to make it to airport as adult daughter arranged a flight for a brief break and to see the grandson in performances. He is quite the budding actor.
Thus, in all this, there is a continuing marvel and appreciation of the Lord's unfolding my vocation, and of the increasing leanings, just for now perhaps, of more reclusion than otherwise. Upon return, I will borrow a book of St. Theophan the Recluse, and in the meantime I simply relax in the ride of whatever His Real Presence desires. There is no running from any of it--not from the eye appointment, not from whatever transpires from that, not from the manual labor, not from the cold, not from the increased pain, not from my mission as a soul nor my vocation as a hermit.
The variety of hermit lives--lived out--is as vast, it seems, as the stars in the sky even if weather prohibits us seeing them. They are out there, and we are here on this planet, fulfilling our vocations and missions in life--hopefully paying attention to the Lord to Whom we are always and eternally accountable. At any given moment, we may find ourselves plucked out of this temporal life and standing before Him. And also, in all given moments, we essentially are standing before Him, as well, and ought keep that in mind.
God bless His Real Presence in us, little children! Let us love one another, for God Is Love! Go forth in peace and faith, in God's flow, in every present moment.