We spent last week in San Francisco, a place where I truly leave a piece of my heart every time I leave. In the past year our family has faced addiction, rehab and recovery, relapse, recovery, the death of a childhood friend from addiction and the harsh reality of a life unlived. This year we began with a new light, a new life has entered our world, bringing back a spark of JOY and WONDER. There is an intensity to the JOY that perhaps would not have been as sorrow has opened our souls to hold more, reshaping our perspective of gratitude. A blessing is a blessing doubled when you have been visited by the dark night of the soul.
San Francisco has a huge homeless population because it is such a temperate climate. Walking into the grocery store I see a young man in his thirties, if that, begging for change. When we return an hour later he is swaying, eyes closed with an empty six pack next to him. He is unaware of my observation, being a nurse I am always assessing people’s health status, it’s just a part of my being. He is young, well nourished, smooth skinned individual who is definitely in need of a bath. We place our groceries in the car and I grab a bottle of water and a few pieces of fruit. I approach the young man, I place my offerings next to his disarray of personal items softly speaking to him, “You might be thirsty or hungry later, it’s not much, but it might make you feel better.” It’s not much; it’s just a small gesture, one I give in love and compassion because I know in my heart he belongs to someone. Someone brought him into this world and held him and loved him and now he sways to the rhythm of his alcohol haze. He is someone’s child, brother, friend and he is a Child of God no matter his choices. I know that his Guardian Angel is standing beside him forever loving him and offering him encouragement. I do not profess to know what his journey is about, but I do know this,- someone is missing his once bright smile, the sparkle in his eye and the sound of his laughter. Somewhere there is a mother with a broken heart, and so I send this young man love, a mother’s love, because it is a small gesture that I hope he feels and someday heals from the sadness that sent him here. And I know that but for the Grace of God that could have been my own broken heart.
Posted in spiritual
Tagged addiction, alcoholism, child of god, Dark night of the soul, God, grace, guardian angel, homeless, life, love, mother's love, san francisco
In hospice I work on the edge of this world, often peering into the vast unknown of where my patients eventually transition to: the Great Beyond.
This past week my youngest son brought up the subject of MY death, what would happen if I died, how would if affect his world, his brothers’ worlds…. I listen. Twice we had this conversation, and twice I assured him I was in no hurry to leave, although the allure of ICE CREAM is ever prevalent. (see my previous post).
Yesterday on my way to see my first hospice patient I am driving more attentive than usual because of these previous conversations. It’s easy to relax your attention and daydream but this morning I am watchful. Someone is whispering in my ear… And then I see it! A car coming head on towards me with his blinker on indicating he wants to make a left hand turn in front of me but there’s no place for him to turn. I slowdown and stare- possibly not the best response- but it does give him time to swerve back into his lane. As he passes by me he glares annoyed and waved his arms at me as if I am in HIS way…oh my!
Something prompts me to look at the next car- on its license plate is the name AZRAEL- the name of the Angel of Death. I have spent time with this Angel, he and I know each other well. He is an Archangel whose name means “He whom helps God”. I do not see the driver, but the car passes me without incident. I realized if I hadn’t been paying attention this could have had a very different outcome.
With all the Divine Intervention in my life I am still amazed when it becomes undeniable that the ANGELS and my SPIRIT FAMILY are watching out for me. I give up a prayer of gratitude. My day is uneventful and I am ever grateful for that.
Yesterday one of my patients I have been seeing for about a month opened up and asked me the big question I often get asked “When?” “When will I die?” I always answer honestly that I do not know, it seems to come as a disappointment that being a hospice nurse I am not privy to insider information. But it does open up the conversation to larger things, exploration of one’s beliefs, sharing of stories to allay fears and the opening up of the soul, the remembering.
This gentleman had been somewhat reserved in my prior visits, mostly due to his disease process, I would always look deeply into his eyes when I cared for him because I felt he had much to say but an inability to express himself, yesterday was different, with a bit of patience he was able to ask that burning question, “When?” It is truly unanswerable, perhaps if we came into this life with a barcode stating our entrance and our exit dates we would live differently, but that is not the case, so each day presents itself with Divine mystery, what miracles, what challenges will this day bring?.
I like to speak in analogies because it makes profound questions easier to digest. So I offered this to my patient and his wife who was holding his hand: Life is like spinach –it’s good for you and makes you grow stronger. Death is like ice cream-it comes at the end but it’s delicious, sweet and puts you in a happy place. We laugh, indeed we have all stared at that lump of green on our plate knowing we must consume the challenges life brings but always leaving a spot for ice cream!
Today was a day of frustration, having received my work assignment in the morning only to have it changed three times in fits and burst over a course of the morning hours until finally I stood in front of the door to my ultimate destination. I knocked on the door but no one was home, hmmm, I turned back to get in my car.
But let me digress, many moons ago, I had a vivid dream, one where I stood in a small wooden boat on a calm body of water, alone. Out of the water off in the distance a figure emerged from the watery depths. He hovered upon the water in a deep purple and golden robe, in his hand he held a staff, on his head a conical hat. I recognized him as someone of spiritual importance. He zoomed towards me- his feet barely skimming the surface of the water coming closer and closer. He stopped a few feet from my boat and held his palms up towards me, indicating to me that the power of healing was in my hands. He did not speak, he did not smile, but his eyes sparkled with a deep wisdom and then he vanished. It was a dream I held close, one I wished I could revisit as the richness of the details have faded over the past 25 years, still the emotions it summoned remain with me. Not long after this I found a picture of Thoth, also referred to as Hermes Trismegistus a combined God of ancient Egyptian and Greek origin. He was known for many things but especially as the God of writing and alchemy. Interestingly Thoth was also considered a psychopomp:. A guider of souls into the afterlife. In a word, he did hospice.
So how does this fit into my crazy disorganized day? As I stood by my car wondering if I was where I was supposed to be, both literally and figuratively, my gaze caught a cluster of mailboxes, only one name was visible, in golden letters, THOTH. Doubts dissolved as the Universe spoke to me.
Posted in spiritual
Tagged alchemy, ancient egypt, ancient Greece, Dreams, healing, healing arts, hospice, nursing, psychopomp, signs, thoth, writing
Yesterday my car refused to start after I left my second visit of my hospice day. I was sitting out front of the house asking my Angels to start it again, I admit it had been sputtering for a while but every time I asked the Angels to intercede they would and I’d be on my merry way. Today was not a day of intercession- well not of that kind. I was sitting in an adult community of about a thousand and half houses. Now I knew a friend of mine had moved there, but I didn’t have a clue where she lived. Let me define “friend” for you-this was someone I had an active relationship with 30 years ago when our kids were small, and since have run into each other in the field as we are both nurses. It is always good to see her, I have a genuine affection for her, but our lives are so busy we don’t spend time.
So I give in and call AAA, which I know will be a wait. (Once when my car broke down my middle son suggested we call AA- so they could come fix the car….but that’s another story entirely). So I am sitting in my car and I ask the Angels, ok- so apparently I am suppose to sit here….WHY? Then I see four crows circling and then landing on the house across the street. I watch them and think about their symbolism of FAITHFUL LOVE. I notice a car pull up and a woman hurries into the house followed by her mate. I think to myself, she looks a lot like my friend…. I sit a while longer and the man comes out and I realize it is my friend’s husband! I am sitting across the street from their very house! I get out and we exchange hugs, he takes me inside and there she is! So the Angels wanted us to reconnect….
I adore this couple; they have been married forever, weathering the storms of life as a team, best of friends. FAITHFUL LOVE.
The tow truck arrives, the driver is grumpy! I say to him, “What a great job you have rescuing stranded people!” He looks at me sideways as if I am a little nuts. But my heart is full, in the midst of a losing half a day’s pay, incurring an unexpected expense, I am happy to have seen the Crow again and witnessed what is truly important, Love. Faithful Love.
When I am anxious I bake, I know weird right? But I find that it grounds me and then I can share the fruits of my labor with others as my son and I cannot eat all of my anxiety driven goodies.
Last week I made a carrot cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, it was lovely. First I had my neighbor over for afternoon teatime, our rendition of Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter in tow. It’s an excuse to relax and spend time together and eat cake and drink tea. The next day I brought a tray to work as my coworkers had a weekly meeting that needed a little sweetening. Then the cake sat in the refrigerator, neither my son nor I ate more. So I put it outside for the birds to enjoy. This morning I watched as a huge black crow balanced on the edge of the pan and enjoyed the frosting until his beak was covered white and he flew away. Crows get a bad rap being symbolic of misfortune, illness and even death. But in ancient Egypt, however, the crow was a symbol of faithful love because of the bird’s monogamous nature. I prefer to view my black feather visitor as that symbol: Faithful Love.
When I initially baked the cake I did not imagine I would be sharing it with The Crow, but I am quite sure his visitation was as much to his nourishment as to mine. The ripple effect of kindness is a level of love, an unseen healer in this world. Kindness is never wasted, it finds it way in mysterious ways, and as you release it- it flies back to you.
The Light –
I spend a great deal of time witnessing the end of life. I often see my patient’s eyes refocus from this world to the next, their lips moving in silent conversations with invisible loved ones. I watch as they slip effortlessly between the worlds until their spirit makes that leap of Faith back to the world from which we came. I often explain the death process as similar to the birthing process. Sometimes it takes hard work-labor- to move from one world to the next but we are always greeted on either side by those that love us, we are embraced by Love and welcomed. We never die or birth alone. It is the nature of transition. People often ask me how I can work in such a depressing atmosphere, but to me death is as much a miracle as birth, indeed death is the birthing into the world of spirit. Patients who once were afraid often exhibit an opening up of the soul, the remembrance of their Divine selves, it is a hushed but lovely moment. They find Peace and Acceptance and Grace as they release their Light into the transition from this world to the next.
This week my world changed, as Birth brought with it a new Light into my world, a shift in the energy of the Earth, a Hope for all good things. This new Light has changed me in subtle ways, as I watch the Joy return to once saddened eyes. Hope has returned as grief lessened its grip on a heart. And yet the Magic is there is nothing that this little Light must do except Be, that is enough to bring Healing and Love to those around him.
It is a wonderful reminder that we all bring Light with us and just Being is enough. Who we are is perfect, we are perfectly imperfect. We are the Magic in this world. We are all Children of God, little Sparks of Divine. We just need to Remember to Shine.
Posted in spiritual
Tagged birth, children of god, Death, divine, end of life, grace, hospice, labor, Light, love, n c wyeth, Peace, transition