An Essential Spiritual Quality
Roselin sent our Archeologists of the Spirit group a handout in preparation for our July 7 meeting. It included an excerpt from Caroline Myss’s book, Entering the Castle, based on Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle. Myss identifies endurance as a spiritual quality learned in the First Mansion.
Endurance is an essential quality of a soul with stamina. Without endurance, you cannot wait for God, or for anything else. Without the capacity to endure, you are impatient, demanding, short-tempered, and you tend to abandon projects that you are meant to complete because you cannot immediately see their significance. With endurance, you know that you can survive anything that is asked of you, whether by a friend or by God. Endurance enables you spiritually to listen better to God, to follow your inner compass. You know you can manage the consequences of courageous personal decisions. Endurance means that your soul can confront enormous odds and accomplish great and powerful tasks, alone if necessary. Only by having something to endure can you develop trust in God’s reason for giving you challenges as you must be able to see them through, realizing only at the end the blessings hidden in the journey.~Caroline Myss
When we gathered, Roselin asked us to share about our experience with endurance.
I replied, “That’s what my whole memoir is about!”
At the End … The Blessings
In one way, August 2, 1999 could be considered the culmination of our story. That day we witnessed a miracle emerging out of decades of anguish. That day I was gifted with my most profound mystical experience. That day and the next, I realized we were being blessed.
Before that day, I doubted. I felt abandoned by God. Even while I prayed fervently for answers and help with my children’s challenges, I didn’t totally trust God. That day doubt evaporated.
Not the End
And that day did not end the challenges my children and I faced. We endured sixteen more years of trials.
At the End … The Blessings
The writing of our story came to an end. And through the writing, blessings emerged. At the end of the writing, HEALING. Publishing … sending our story out into the world … disclosing shameful secrets, blessings emerged. At the end of hiding, FREEDOM.
Not the End
Challenges continue to this day … they will never end. Living with a chronic disease for which there is no cure means the challenges never end … until we take our last breath that is.
Endurance: A Soul With Stamina
The blessings that emerged during those other endings light the path forward, wherever it leads.
And I am grateful for respites and spiritual practices to gather strength.
My memoir which told our story through 2016 and my recent blog posts, “Double Whammy” and “Perspective” attest to my being a soul with stamina.
Not God … It’s Life
Only by having something to endure can you develop trust in God’s reason for giving you challenges …~Caroline Myss
On this, I cannot agree. I do not believe God gave me these challenges.
I believe life hands us challenges. In my case, my ongoing challenges are a direct consequence of a choice I made early in my life … a choice I made even though the still small voice of wisdom within warned me that this path was not a good fit for me.
God is humble and never comes if not first invited, but God will find some clever way to get involved.~Richard Rohr
It is my belief, born of experience, that the Divine is present with us every step of the way, even during our ill-advised turns. It is as though, when I chose that misfit path, God said, “Okay, that’s going to be a tough road to hoe for her. I’ll have to find another “clever way to get involved” … to help her find her way home … home being the discovery and actualization of who I was born to be … my True Self.
For me, that involved following a Divine directive to grow and evolve … a directive I believe we are all born with. Some of us hear it loud and clear. I was one of those. And so the challenges I faced as a result of choosing that “not-a-good-fit” path gave me the impetus to wake up and grow beyond the spiritually asleep person I was.
I was given a strength beyond my own to endure. And when I had exhausted all my resources, I had no choice but to surrender to a power greater than myself. And when I had gained enough wisdom to get out of the way, God got involved and miracles ensued. Pretty clever of God, I’d say.
By your endurance you will gain your lives.~Luke 21:19
When that day began on August 2, 1999, I could foresee no positive outcome. But the Divine graced me with the capacity to stay curious for 14 hours … until the miracle emerged. And because I was awake and curious, I didn’t miss the miracle! Pretty wise of me, I’d say. That blessing changed me and continues to change me. I gained my life.
Endurance means that your soul can confront enormous odds and accomplish great and powerful tasks, alone if necessary.~Caroline Myss
I confronted enormous odds that August 2 day and the days leading to it. The memory of the miraculous gift we received strengthens me to face every challenge put before me. That includes the current one I wrote about in “Double Whammy” and “Perspective.” Facing challenges during a pandemic is doubly overwhelming.
But so far, I have never had to face my challenges alone. Often my friends serve as emissaries for the Divine:
- My “Spirit Sisters” of 45 years, Sharon and Kathryn, the subjects of my last post … faithful friends who have seen me through so much.
- Kathy and Karen who stood by my side and then witnessed the miracle that unfolded on that August 2, 1999 day.
- Karen, Dan, and Nora and our regular dinner dates where laughter healed my heart after receiving a stent in 2005.
- Dan, Karen, and Kathy who have agreed to serve as executor and trustees of my estate after I’m gone … seeing to it that Nicole finds her way to the next stage in her life.
- Karen, Dan, Eunice, Cindi, and Bob who took me to doctor’s appointments, brought food and comfort, and supplements to deal with side effects when I went through chemo in 2009.
- My Imago Colleagues and Integral friends and many others who prayed for me and enlisted people across the world to pray for me. All this love extended made lymphoma a blessing.
- Damian, my Imago Colleague from Houston, who called while I was newly diagnosed and still in the hospital, offering to pull strings to get me into MD Anderson Cancer Center, if needed.
- Marcia and Larry, Imago friends, who hosted me and accompanied me to a doctor near their home in Michigan for a second opinion regarding the need for radiation.
- Kathy who travelled with me to Cleveland Clinic when I needed another second opinion.
- Diana who showed up at the hospital to sit with me the day of Nicole’s 5-hour surgery.
- Nora and Ruth who helped me clean out Nicole’s apartment when it became clear she could no longer live independently.
- Cathy who served as a second ear during a case conference with Nicole’s rehab case manager.
- Diana who dropped everything to take me to the ER when I had a kidney stone and then showed up at the hospital early on the morning of surgery so I wouldn’t feel alone.
- Marvel who upon hearing Nicole was depressed, took her shopping for a bathing suit and enrolled both of them in a water aerobics class, picking her up and bringing her home weekly … a break for me and an outing for Nicole without her mother. COVID ended that. L
- Kate and Kathy who grocery shopped for us when COVID first hit.
- And most recently, Diana, Prema, and Jen, upon hearing my overwhelm with our current healthcare dilemma, helped me think through how to handle the situation, recommending a second opinion.
- And Jen who helped me find a different gynecologist for Nicole.
It Takes a Village …
… as Diana often says.
If I had to endure alone … I guess I would. I’m grateful I’ve never had to.
And oh, by the way, my daughter’s appointment with the new gynecologist is scheduled for August 28 at 10 am. Two weeks after this saga began, we signed the releases of information for Nicole’s records.
After we accomplished that, I could feel the tension oozing out of my body. Tears moistened my eyes.
I felt so much better after calling one of those friends listed above to process my feelings.
I am beyond grateful for every faithful friend, some mentioned … some not … who help me endure, and not alone.