Spiritual Life

Health issues can be a gift to help us see life differently

“Grateful people are those who can celebrate even the pains of life because they trust that when harvest time comes the fruit will show that pruning was not punishment but purification.” Henri Nouwen

I have had people tell me their illness was gift. Why? Because a paradigm shift happened for them.

What mattered yesterday no longer matters today. They are done with ranting and railing against life and have entered into a new way of living.

I, personally, experienced two years of health related issues. (I won’t go into the details). I am beginning to harvest some of the fruits of my pruning. – I’ll share a few.

Health cannot be taken for granted. I must tend to my body as well as my mind and soul.

I began taking yoga exercise classes to help with balance issues. I’m discovering how “unused” are parts of my body. Like a toddler learning to walk, I am making new discoveries and feeling alive in different ways.

Fear of being out of control of my life can be a huge obstacle to our health and well-being.

Fear exacerbates hypertension which causes high blood pressure to spike even higher and limits our body’s natural capabilities and supernatural awareness.

Author Mark Nepo tells of a time he was instructed to be perfectly still in order to manage an intense migraine headache. In order not to move, he focused on a tree outside his window. He became so present, he experienced the tree talking to him.

I do not think this is bizarre! In the midst of suffering, we can experience natural events that supernaturally shift our pain and shed light on our path.

Prayer from a place of gratitude versus need is a relatively new concept for me.

“Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. “ Mark 11:24. Scripture does not say, believe you will receive it; it says believe you have received it. I now try to pray with a sense of knowing God hears me and a sense of wonder as to how and when my prayer will be answered.

Lastly, difficulties can open our hearts to experience others in new ways.

Yesterday, I witnessed an elderly couple out for breakfast. When they had finished eating, the husband, who was barely able to stand himself, assisted his wife into a standing position. My heart stirred with sweetness as I witnessed how they naturally supported one another.

Later in the day, I maintained eye contact with a homeless man, as I gave him some money. I noticed his eyes brighten and his smile transform his face as he mouthed the words “thank you.”

I am grateful to discover there is so much more for me to wake up to in welcoming the changes in my life versus resisting them.

I’ll close with one of John Donohue’s blessings: May you “awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.”

Cathy Rhoads is a board certified chaplain and attends Christ the King Church in Richland. Questions and comments should be directed to editor Lucy Luginbill in care of the Tri-City Herald newsroom, 333 W. Canal Drive, Kennewick, WA 99336. Or email lluginbill@tricityherald.com.