Thursday, June 2, 2011

Difficult Days

In Ralph Waldo's Emerson's essay on Nature, he writes at great length about the holiness and sanctuary found when in the presence of "the sublime". In the very first line he states, "To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society." In other words, I can sit here in my bedroom, typing away, completely alone - but still be far from solitary. "But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars." 

He then goes on to say something very interesting to me. He talks about the charming landscape which he saw that morning that was "indubitably" made up of some twenty or thirty farms. "Miller owns this field, Lock that, and Manning the woodland beyond. But none of them owns the landscape.There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet.This is the best part of these men's farms, yet to this their warranty-deeds give no title." 

Me walking the BWCA,  2008                 Photo by David Ralph Johnson
There is no place in my life where I am more connected to God than when I am in the woods. I've been in many churches in my lifetime. From small country churches to the great cathedrals of Europe. Nothing compares to the intercourse of heaven and earth found in the stillness of the forest. Or in the dirt that falls between my fingers in the gardens that surround my home. "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life - no disgrace, no calamity which nature can not repair....I am part and parcel of God."

Life can sneak up on us sometimes. It doesn't matter who you are, how fat your check book, how white your picket fence, how organized your calendar or how spiritually awake you are - life cannot be pinned down like the papers on my desk when the wind blows through my window. Life is in constant motion, a never ending series of beginnings and endings. Most, completely invisible to us. Others, so catastrophic that we are left empty and broken in their wake. What we so often fail to realize, is that it is these very endings that make fertile the growth for new life.

After traveling to three countries on the heals of a life devastated by divorce, Liz, the primary character in the movie Eat, Pray, Love discovers this truth, "Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation." Here we are, with so much wisdom and potential - and without even knowing it - we cover it over to protect our selves from the unknown. We have the freedom to experience the life of a butterfly, yet we mysteriously prefer the small and fearful cocoon of ego.  

This was the place in which I found myself this past week. Life crept in through the windows and under the doors of my home and the next thing I knew, there I sat crying in the middle of the room, wondering why everything was in such disarray. My health has been slowly declining over the past month. A few extra doctor visits and tests have determined that I will need to have surgery to repair some electrical malfunctions in my heart. They also determined that the lupus is active and therefor I am unable to get off steroids. At the same time it was determined that my bone density is being severely compromised from this very same steroid use. In the end, new medications with new side effects were added to my already lengthy list of thirty-seven different prescriptions.

Anna's Commencement Ceremony  
On top of not feeling well, June is a very busy month for us in the Johnson/Buresh household. Anna May is the fourth to graduate from high school out of seven daughters and will celebrate this event on the 18th of June . An occasion that I have been looking forward to almost more than she has. I want nothing more than to rejoice this day and share in the honoring of all she has accomplished in her life. School has never come easy for Anna, and through hard work and an amazing spirit, she has persevered with the utmost of grace. But this can be a daunting task for someone with chronic illness. Planning, remembering, executing.... all hold very real challenges.  

Yet I was managing. Asking for help, doing a little bit every day. Sorting through pictures and school memorabilia (this can be done while in bed!) saving every extra penny so that I could pay to have food brought in... neatly tucking life under the paperweight on my desk. And then the news... the State of Minnesota cannot agree on the next two years budget so the government is preparing to shut down on July 1st. Lay-off notices will be going out on June 10th for over 45,000 state employees. One of those notices will be addressed to my husband. 

Fear set in. We don't have the resources for this. We don't have savings, except for the small amount I have set aside for graduation and a week of visiting family. How will we pay the house payment? Will I even have insurance? Missing even one medication can be life threatening. What will I do about my heart surgery? How will I pay for Anna's wisdom teeth that need to be removed this week? I can't afford to have graduation catered, how will I fix all the food needed? School will be out soon, where will all the grocery money come from? I cried my tears, became angry at the very man that loves me more than life and slipped right into the comfort of my fearful little cocoon. 

BWCA 2008
Without realizing it, we continue to shield ourselves from pain because it scares us. We put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices and strategies – walls of stone built to protect ourselves from suffering. Walls that are strengthened by emotions of anger, indifference, jealously, envy, arrogance and pride. But if we look closely – there always remains a soft spot – like a crack in the walls we erect – a beautiful place of vulnerability. A blessed ground fertile with opportunity.

I couldn't make it into the woods this past week. But that didn't matter. All I had to do was step out my front door and all of heaven's wonder was there waiting for me. The sun, the wind, the birds, the spring flowers...the smell. Those things that for which no man holds title - the very fiber that connects my tired, aching body to all of creation - beautifully infinite and wholly perfect. Surely the wisdom that opens the blossom will find it's care of me.

So too, will I open.


Anonymous said...

As we both share the struggles of Illness I feel your pain on the worries of life. I was once told that god will not give you more than you can handle....I struggle believing that is true as my shoulders seem heavy with worry and fear of how I can keep moving forward. I was also told by the same friend to take a deep breath and repeat "Let go and let god" and that I have found is the one thing that get's me through my days....well, that and your words. My brother calls me strong....I find him crazy...I am not strong...I am "tired". I find you strong. Maybe finding somone elses words or the little things in life remind us and gives us strenth to keep going? You have given me that lift and for that I thank you. "Let go and let god" you will get through this you are a strong woman with a strong and loving family. You will be in my prayers my friend ♥

Anonymous said...

Reading your words my dear friend makes me want to come right over there and give you a great BIG hug! I'm so sorry life is throwing you all of these curves right now but I agree with Becky to 'let go and let God'. Keep your eyes on Him as He will never leave you. Isaiah 43 tells us "Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you:
I have called you by your name, you are mine.
Should you pass through the sea, I will be there with you; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched and the flames will not burn you...
Do not be afraid, for I am with you."
You have so many, many friends who love you and will be there for you if and when things get worse. I am praying for all of my friends at the State that things will get resolved so that no one has to be laid off. You and your family are always in my prayers and I will pray even harder for you now. If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know. Find strength in your family, your friends and especially in Him. God loves you Theresa and so do I!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled into your blog by accident one lonely night while searching more information about lupus(not that I thought I could find any more then the hundreds of hours I have searched)The tears just would not stop flowing,I cried and cried till I fell asleep. Your writing has brought me such a long overdo peace,and still is.For this I thank you:) Kim

Anonymous said...

yo lo tengo desde hace 28 años, me hice su amiga, caminamos me dan mas corticoides, solo hidroxicloroquina 200 mg que me ha echo muy bien.Estoy en remision hace 12 años........ Les deseo todo lo mejor y no bajen los brazos, yo no lo hice porque al detectarme la enfernedad quede embarazada y con todos los riegos que eso presuponia, tengo un hermoso hijo de 26 años....FUERA , SE PUEDE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Theresa said...

Gracias por lo mucho! Tus palabras son hermosas para mí!