Feeling Trapped

spiritual-board

When William Campion was in the intensive-care unit (ICU) this month after a double lung transplant, he felt nervous and scared and could breathe only with the help of a machine.

Joel Nightingale Berning, a chaplain at Mr. Campion’s hospital stopped by. He saw that Mr. Campion had a tube in his neck and windpipe, which prevented him from speaking. The chaplain held up a communication board—not the kind used to check a patient’s physical pain and needs, but a “spiritual board” … The board also lets patients rate their level of spiritual pain on a scale of 0 through 10, from none to “extreme.” Mr. Campion, a 69-year-old Catholic, indicated his spiritual pain was acute: 8. Using the picture board, he signaled that he wanted to pray. The chaplain recited the Lord’s Prayer as Mr. Campion followed silently.

ICUs have evolved in recent years and even the critically ill are being sedated less than before. As doctors came to believe that heavy sedation—once the norm in such units—could be harmful, many patients are now breathing with the help of machines, and are conscious…more ICU patients (are) awake and alert.  The fact that these patients can’t communicate adds to their frustration…many patients on these machines feel “trapped.”…They have been intubated, meaning they have a tube in their throat, attached to a machine that is breathing for them….

The 32-year-old chaplain, who is nondenominational, persuaded a fellow chaplain—Seigan Ed Glassing, a Zen Buddhist monk who had studied art—to help illustrate the board. The two included a range of faiths and belief systems, including Christian, Jewish and Hindu, as well as New Age, Pagan and agnostic. Colorful icons offer patients the option of a prayer or confession, or simply to have someone hold their hand. Chaplain Glassing said he loved figuring out “what would a blessing look like,” or how to draw “make [me] an altar.” A favorite: depicting someone asking to be read a poem.

The study, with results published last August in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society, looked at 50 ICU patients who were offered spiritual care through the board. Researchers measured patients’ anxiety before and after the chaplain came, concluding that “anxiety after the first visit decreased 31%.”

Among patients who survived, 81% “felt more at peace,” while 71% felt “more connected with what is sacred.”

~ Lucette Lagnado, excerpts from A ‘Spiritual Board’ Brings Comfort to the Critically Ill


Post inspired and triggered by two of my favorite movies: The Bell and The Butterfly and The Sea Inside.

Small Gods

meditation-woman-hair

My hope is that this minuscule prayer
will reach out to the god unknown I just sensed
passing in the rivulet of breeze above the mere rivulet
of water in this small arroyo. To the skittering insect
this place is as large as the Sea of Galilee.
In prayer I’m a complicated insect, moving
this way and that. The insect before me puzzles
over its current god, my dog Zilpha, who watches
with furrowed brow and thinks, “Should I paw
at this bug in this shallow pool, bite it, roll
on it in this tiny creek in the late afternoon heat,
or perhaps take another nap?” She looks at her god,
which is me, understanding as her eyes close
that the gods make up their minds as they go.
They are as patient as the water in which they live,
and won’t be surprised when they reach the sea
with their vast collection of reflections, the man, the dog,
the stars and moon and clouds, the javelina and countless
birds, bugs and minnows, the delicate sips of rattlers,
the boughs of mesquite, the carapace of the desert tortoise,
the heron footprints, the water’s memories of earth.

~ Jim Harrison, “Small Gods” from In Search of Small Gods

 


Photograph: meditation by carlos.odeh (via newthom)

Saturday Morning

wind-breeze-meadow

We have forgotten the virtue of sitting, watching observing. Nothing much happens. This is the way of nature. We breathe together, simply this. For long periods of time, the meadow is still. We watch. We wait. We wonder. Our eyes find a resting place. And then, the slightest of breezes moves the grass. It can be heard as a whisper of prayer.

— Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World

 


Notes: Quote: Thank you Beth @ Alive on all channels. Photo: Clemens Fantur

Sunday Morning. Only one possible prayer.

woman-red-dress-painting-art

There is really only one possible prayer:
Give me to do everything that I do in the day
with a sense of the sacredness of life.
[…]
Tomorrow the world crashes in again.

~ May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude: The Journal of May Sarton


Painting: Taras Loboda, Lady in Red 1961 (via Mennyfox55)

 

I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

feet-souls

[…]

When I got to the waiting room I saw your mother perched there with her incurable stare. She was in that place where the high probability of failure intersects with a two percent chance of success. Hope at its most corrosive. […]

How is your boy

She didn’t move or look at me, but there was graciousness in her tone when she said

He’s just not so good

When I returned the next day I peeked in to see my dad and then I darted over to look for those feet of yours. When I didn’t see them I stopped a nurse and said, the boy, the tall one, where is he? It was a nurse I didn’t recognize and she clearly didn’t know that you were supposed to be a big basketball star and live to be eighty, she clearly knew none of that because she did not look up and said flatly that they had taken your body away.

That day was over twenty years ago. I’ve been witness to great tragedy since but I’ve never forgotten you. I created different details to your narrative to go along with what I knew and it never seems like what I assume is inaccurate. I feel like by having some understanding of your latitude I can deduce your center, like quantum gravity, which I can comprehend about as much as I can a mother burying her son, but if certain scientists are correct and it becomes possible to bend time, then I’ll be able to ask you if any of my assumptions were correct. I don’t need answers until then, unless the idea of God becomes willing to explain itself, in which case I am up for that Q& A. Where your story intersects mine is at my refusal to accept things too sad for me to process; my reimagining endings that haunt me. It’s hard to reconcile that God is either entirely too secretive or has a totally deficient ability to prioritize. I hear people say, “It happened for a reason,” or “It’s part of God’s plan,” and I wish that made sense to me but it doesn’t. I carry you around still and who knows why. Perhaps there are no answers for us poor humans, but we know a handful of things. We know there exists a planet with four thousand versions of songbirds. Because that is possible and because on that same planet can exist sentient beings made up almost entirely of stardust, and because bonafide poetry erupts mightily from some of those beings, and there is music, sex, and babies that laugh in their sleep; because we are roaming a universe that may be a hologram, with another dimension consecutively projecting itself outside this construct of relativity and gravity; because of all that, there is no reason why my prayers shouldn’t be able to reach your mother whose name I didn’t even know. There is no reason why not, when nothing is completely harmonious with its description, not really, and there is a flaw in every theory of time and space.

From time to time I picture it. I see her watching while you go flying down that court. I see her shoulders moving almost imperceptibly to mimic your bobs and weaves around the other players. She is going where you go without thinking about it, tied to you, following and winning when you win, until you turn to wave and that puts her on her feet and beaming. I do know that if your mother is alive today she is thinking of you right this minute. I wonder what she prays for, and if you hear her.

~ Mary-Louise Parker, “Dear Mr. Big Feet” from Dear You 


Photo: derrosenkavalier titled Feet part ten

Take a moment

eagle-veterans-day-honor


Source: Alan ShapiroPaying Respects to our fallen heroes on Veteran’s Day (via milsotherapy)

Saturday Morning: How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.

light-woman-blonde-neck-back

When from our better selves we have too long
Been parted by the hurrying world, and droop,
Sick of its business, of its pleasures tired,
How gracious, how benign, is Solitude.
How potent a mere image of her sway;
Most potent when impressed upon the mind
With an appropriate human centre – hermit,
Deep in the bosom of the wilderness; […]
Kneeling at prayers; or watchman on top
Of lighthouse, beaten by Atlantic waves; […]
When, for the night deserted, it assumes
A character of quiet more profound
Than pathless wastes.

— William Wordsworth, The Prelude


Credits: Photo: Nini Poppins. Quote: Google Books via whyallcaps.us

Rabbi to Agnostic: Your Word is Fire (Have me thinkin’)

breathe-cold-mist-portrait

If prayer is pure and untainted,
surely that holy breath
that rises from your lips
will join with the breath of heaven
that is always flowing
into you from above […]
Thus that part of God which is within you
is reunited with its source.

~Arthur Green & Barry Holtz, Keter Shem Tov, as adapted in Your Word is Fire


Credits: Poem: Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Samantha West (Untitled)

Sunday Morning

cloudless-blue-sky

The nearest I’d come to feeling
anything like God
was the plain blue cloudless sky
and a certain silence,
but how do you pray to that?

~ Janet Fitch, White Oleander


Notes: Quote: The Chateau of My Heart. Photo: So, Now What?

No more tears. Here’s to good outcomes.

tear-drop

It’s a ritual before bedtime.
Nightly.
Now running for 14 months.

I stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
Take a deep breath.
Raise my left hand to pull down the lower left lid,
Raise my right hand to apply a thin stream of the prophylactic.
And if I had a third hand (and was a Believer),
I would make the sign of the cross, look to the heavens, and whisper:
Work your magic. Please.

Sodium Chloride Ophthalmic Ointment.
Generic Brand.
40% cheaper than the Name brand.
Found and bought on Amazon.
Produced in Lake Forest, Illinois by some unknown bucket shop.
You are one strange dude. You don’t think twice about the risk of a no-name eyeball lube bought on the web but refuse to buy generic Raisin Bran cereal at your local Stop ‘n Shop.

Apply every 3 to 4 hours, or as directed by Doctor.
Ophthalmologist’s instructions were nightly. And nightly it is.
For temporary relief of corneal edema.
edema: the collection of excess of watery fluid.

But that’s not the real pain point.
Which is… [Read more…]

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