What a long strange trip...

As many of you know, caring for an aging parent is a mixed bag: joy and sorrow in the same moment, gratitude to care for one you love and incredible grief, too. What is making this even harder is that it appears that my dad has sustained a head injury during this fall. On top of this uncertainty there are also issues of detoxing from meds, poor general health, great grief over the loss of my mother four years ago and heart problems.

Speaking with his doctor today put it into perspective: it is not likely that your father will bounce back to his former level. Already he's been hospitalized twice this year for other falls - that and everything else in his life - are all coming together at this time and he is slowly failing. What's more, he is still so very, very sad over your mother's death. So... perhaps the time has come for the wider family to start thinking about plan B... and C... and D.

A lovely man - a true servant of healing for my family - and a gentle but sober messenger about the complexity awaiting us as this year unfolds. We hope that dad can get back to his home and have some quality of life there - but there are no guarantees, yes?

Later today another of my sisters will arrive in town and we'll caucus. It will be wonderful to see her: we are 13 years apart in age and eons apart in life experience but deeply connected in the heart. For some strange reason the Grateful Dead keeps running through my head...what a long, strange trip its been!


During prayer yesterday afternoon I read these words from Joan Chittister:

To the wise, it seems, life is not a series of events to be controlled. Life is a way of walking through the universe whole and holy... Listen. Pay attention. Let nothing go by without being open to being nourished by the inner meaning of that event in life... And take from death before it takes from thee.

Then she goes on to say two very important things for me:

1. Spirituality is simultaneously learning how to be aware of what is going on all around and within us - and - learning to listen for where God is in it all. Not either/or but always both/and: "for we are being called to something outside of ourselves, something greater than ourselves, something beyond ourselves.

2. And if we train ourselves to ignore "what's going on" - to remain deaf to reality or trapped within our social amnesia, then as Paul suggests in Romans 1: God will let us miss what was meant to be ours. Being alert - conscious and responsive - is living life in communion with all that is holy and human at the same time.

The spirituality of this visitation for me is: engagement - being present with my father - solitude - stepping back to listen and feel - and meditation - listening for the voice of the holy within this all too human experience.
photo credits: dianne de mott

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