Rhonda Cagle

Posts Tagged ‘prayer’

Take Two Rosaries and Call Me in the Morning

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm

I had surgery a few days ago. It seems my gall bladder decided to form a lovely, large stone, which was in danger of blocking the ducts leading out of this odd bit of anatomy nestled within my abdomen.  And, as luck would have it, my surgeon was most insistent that his removal of my gall bladder takes place NOW instead of a few weeks down the road as I had tried to insist. Ever helpful, my family suggested that Vicki, my creative jazz singer/jeweler stepmom, fashion a lovely pendant out of this rather large stone my body had formed. I assured them the thousands of dollars of medical bills that will soon be arriving in my mailbox will be souvenirs enough.

Since I was unable to delay or avoid this surgery, I decided to also have a few other procedures performed at the same time, which my doctors have been advising for quite a while but I have been putting off. I figured it would be better to have a “two for one” surgery. Discounts – especially on medical bills – are always a good thing.

Except on the body.

Two surgeons, three procedures, and three hours later, I came out of surgery and into recovery. And I was sick. Very sick. The nausea was worse than the pain. As I went in and out of consciousness, I was hit with wave after wave of stomach-churning illness. “Sick!” I would whimper as Nurse Loud Mouth with her comforting bedside manner would scream in my ear, “How are you feeling?” She would then grab another syringe and inject another concoction of “feel good” drugs into my IV pronouncing, “There, you’ll feel better now.”

She lied.

Two hours later, I was in the car and on my way home bleeding all over my shirt from my five incisions and holding a bucket to my mouth while crying to Lorenzo that I still felt sick and was hurting. He got me home, got me upstairs, and got me into bed. He put the bucket by my bed while Megan put a cold washcloth on my forehead. I took the handful of anti-nausea and pain pills someone handed me – and prayed to die.  Seriously.

Given the fact that I’m writing this cheery little memoir, God clearly didn’t answer that prayer. But I’ve thought a lot about it these past few days as I’ve lounged on my couch.

Prayer is a sacred thing. It’s my soul laid bare before God. Sometimes, like a few nights ago when I prayed for death, prayer transcends words and even conscious thought and becomes a sort of inhaling and exhaling in the presence of the Holy. Through tears and sighs, hurts and sickness, death and despair are expelled. And somehow, my soul breathes in a little of heaven’s oxygen. For a few moments, these shared breaths allow me to put the very essence of my being into the hands of the Creator and say, “Thy will be done,” and then trust. Trust that in life and in death, I am not my own, but belong to a Loving God. Trust that when life is painful and hard, confusing and hurtful, there is purpose beyond what I can see or know. Trust that in sickness and the dark night of the soul, there is still a reason for my existence. Trust that whether I wake to morning’s light or heaven’s eternity, I am firmly held in the grasp of God.

If you were expecting some great theological explanation about why God answers prayers – or not – in His own mysterious way, I’m sorry to disappoint you. I don’t have those answers. I’ve sat beside my daughter’s bed as she clung to life and prayed for God to restore her. And He did. I’ve prayed by my husband’s bedside as he clung to life, asking God to restore him. And He did not. Who can say why the answer for my husband was different than for my daughter? Certainly, this side of heaven, I will never know or understand. As an aside, please don’t bother to tell me that Dennis now has ultimate and eternal life. Theologically, this may be true but it’s not helpful emotionally as I approach the third anniversary of his death.

If you’re still reading, the point is this. My prayers are not so much about changing my situation or the situations of others. Prayer is about changing me. The very act of prayer quiets my incessant cynicism and forces me to decide whether or not I will choose to breathe in synchronicity with my Creator, trusting Him with every breath… every hope… every outcome. Some days, that’s harder than others. But it’s necessary – often painful – requiring that I surrender the outcome to Other hands, believing that whatever happens, I’ll eventually feel better. Even when I want to die in the moment.

Kind of like my surgery.

Speaking of which, please pray for Nurse Loud Mouth. She’ll have another patient today. Both of them need all the prayer they can get!

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Shift Happens

In Uncategorized on March 3, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Stream of consciousness writing is something I diligently attempt to avoid – at least publicly. I have a rather eclectic amalgamation of immediate and extended family members, clients, Christians, atheists, evangelicals, and Roman Catholics who read my ramblings, which means that without an edit button and carefully crafted words I’m guaranteed to offend virtually everyone. However, I’m crazy tired – the kind of tired that causes me to drive several miles past my exit on the freeway because I’ve zoned out or circle three times through the grocery store because I can no longer remember where to find the cinnamon. And it’s been ages since I’ve written anything except what my clients pay me to write and there’s a lot of life going on right now so I’m going with stream of consciousness musings and will ask for forgiveness when I am less crazed and more well rested.

For those who care, we’re roughly three weeks into Lent. I will confess that I have a love/hate relationship with this season of the church year. It’s akin to that old joke that assures you, “after it stops hurting, it’s going to feel a lot better.” I usually like what I see as a result of this 40-day season, but the actual 40 days just suck. I really should use better and more spiritual vocabulary and tell you that they are a time of discipline… introspection… focused austerity. Sometimes that’s true – but, at least in my life, it’s almost always true that they suck. Even before I was aware of Lent, I can look back in my life and see that this general timeframe has consistently been a season of great upheaval and internal reorganization in my life.

This year, my Lenten observance has been overshadowed by the unrelenting demands of life. Over the past few months, I’ve become keenly aware of how exhausting it is to keep all of the bases covered and all the balls in the air. In this economy, earning a living is difficult. As a single mom who is self-employed, it is overwhelming. Even the tiniest shift of the scale can create a tipping point that upends everything, leaving me flailing as I try to regain my balance.

Finances are uncertain and money is scarce. Tip. Megan was in a car accident and is having continuing challenges with concussion symptoms. Tip. Her car is totaled and I have to buy a new one. Tip. My mother-in-law likely has only weeks to live and funeral arrangements and costs have to be addressed. Tip. The scales of life keep shifting and tipping and I find myself off balance. I think this year, my Lenten lesson is abundantly clear: Shift happens. The question becomes how to respond to the shift. (And yes, the pun is intended!)

If I was a more insightful writer, a more spiritual person, or perhaps less tired, I might have an answer. I don’t. Perhaps that’s part of the lesson. Each time I feel myself seesawing as life tips the scales, I find myself praying. In my better moments, the prayers are in complete sentences. Mostly, however, it’s simply me breathing in and out, whispering for God to somehow help… somehow show up… somehow keep me from falling. And somehow, when I reach my tipping point and I feel everything giving out from under me, God provides a counterbalance – a person who helps, an unexpected client project and income, or simply a moment of divine mercy when I’m able to catch my breath and find my footing, even if it’s only for a few moments.

It’s not sermon material and it definitely won’t end up in any of my client writings, but it’s the truth about these weeks in my life and this Lenten season. Shift happens. So does prayer. Somehow God shows up and keeps the scales from tipping. And, although I am bone weary and desperate for solid ground, I find myself so profoundly grateful for God’s provision and presence in the midst of a topsy-turvy life.

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