After reading an article written by Lynda Smallwood entitled “Opportunity Still Knocks” on the website of www.yourgoodlife.org, I was inspired to write this story to support and encourage all who have great losses and are potentially grieving at this time.
Never in my wildest dreams (or nightmares) would I have thought that in the summer of 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic that I would get a phone call that our fifty-four year old son had had a hemorrhagic stroke based in the basal ganglia of his brain. Erik and I had been working long distance to get help for his son who was diagnosed on the schizophrenia spectrum. Those plans and treatment had begun. On Father’s Day Erik and his son had a great day together and our grandson had cooked him a special seafood dinner. That afternoon they called to wish Bruce a “Happy Birthday” and a “Happy Father’s Day”. It was a blessed conversation. After dinner Erik began to have symptoms of a stroke and was rushed to Grady Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.
Storms or crises like these in our lives and in the lives of many each day all over the world seem to be impossible to comprehend. And yet, there we were trying to abide in awe-filled attention and surrender or abandon our situation to the Divine Forming Mystery that we call “God”. Our only answer was that we, based on our faith, must pray for our son and grandson and ask others to help us do that. From the midst of this abiding came blessings that are promised to us from God’s words. Of course, we had to keep our eyes wide open to see and accept them. Often, we become so introspective that we miss blessings, grace and gifts beyond belief.
Someone sent to us a scripture quote from Ecclesiastes and described to us how this suffering helps us to grow and form into the image and likeness of our God. He went on to say that we should welcome life’s experiences that form us. But why does the Word say, “Rejoice, again I say, Rejoice”? Somehow, we need to find joy in these horrible things that have happened?
I guess we are not just a “selfie” in this world. We are in relationship with others, with the Divine Forming Mystery in the Center of it all.
Each day we give form and receive form. Friends and family began praying for our whole family. Others sent texts, emails and cards to remind us they were praying for us. When we went to be with our son and grandson in Atlanta, friends of Erik began supporting us in so many ways. Our other sons and their wives began working long hours. Erik’s twin brother and our other son began long stressful hours dealing with this storm/crises that had just occurred in our family.
Once we went to Atlanta, we couldn’t visit our son because of Covid-19 virus lockdowns. We carried a box of masks, Clorox wipes and practiced six-foot distancing wherever we went. When Erik was moved to a long-term rehabilitation facility, we had to scoot through euonymus shrubs outside his window to visit him. When we went to pick up our grandson, we just happened to be driving through Florida during the days of Hurricane Isaias. The more we turned over to our God the more we were able to accomplish our short-term goals.
There is a lot of formation that happens in the midst of a storm. In summary:
1. Good things come while we brave a storm or crises. Don’t fight it. Watch for the grace and blessings in the midst of it. They are there.
2. Storms can give you character. Some of the most beautiful natural sites were made beautiful by a storm; e.g. the slot canyon in Zion National Park or the response of people during 9/11.
3. Braving storms teach reliance. Witness how communities band together. E.g. People helping people during hurricanes, tornados, and loss or even the 12 Step program in A. A. We can’t make it on our own. Self-reliance is a trap. Both God and others are needed.
4. Storms reveal our vulnerabilities. We may want to hide or become angry or complain or be negative. It helps to pay attention and abide in awe and practice appreciation.
5. Storms spur growth and formation in us. Formation occurs in the midst of mourning and loss.
6. It is hard to make it on our own during storms in our lives. We need each other. We need community.
7. We are so thankful for those who have supported us during this recent storm in our lives. We need to be grateful and thankful for these experiences as hard as it is.
So, to all that have come along side us during this storm or formation event, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Contributed by: Rosemary Hume
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