Dr. Corbett arrived in the middle of the night to my childhood home. That was back in the olden days when house calls were still made by medical doctors. My grandmother lived with us and had a severe stroke. When the stroke began, I was home alone with grandma. I was only in kindergarten and my parents were gone to a PTA meeting. I did not know what to do. There were no cell phones. I did not know how to call the doctor and couldn't call my parents. There was no 911. So, I laid in bed with grandma, hugging her with her moaning and unable to move or speak. Later, she said I kept hugging her and asking her if she was going to die. She would laugh in telling the story and say, "Lord have mercy. If I wasn't dying, I thought I would with Nita asking me over and over if I was dying."
Life is relationships. So, it behooves us to pay attention to the relational nature of stories--both in their telling and in what is told. We humans have a yearning to connect. In sharing and relating to others in deeply personal ways, we find expressions of all our needs and emotions--the pain and the pleasures. Sometimes, we need a respite from anxious struggles and the push and pull of life. That is a need that media has seized upon. There is an endless supply of movies, TV, streaming, cell phone use, internet finds and social media that fill up most people's days. And yet, there is a loneliness pervading the lives of so many. Depression and mental illness are on the rise.
To my mind, all the media in the world cannot take the place of a house call from a friend or loved one. Taking time to listen and really BE together in all of our humanity with stories of our lives is the best Rx possible. When I take time to KNOW another person, my life and soul grow exponentially. To be able to laugh together, cry together and simply be together is good medicine for the soul. It fulfills my yearning connections better than any kind of documentary or internet search that I could undertake. I need face-to-face gatherings, enlivening relationships, and places of deep presence where the story, the teller, and those listening can find the longed-for connections. That happens for me in shared worship; in breathing in nature with another person on a long hike; or with sharing a dinner around the table.
Shared music and great art are connectors for me as well. Those are prescriptions that I long for. I have a dear friend who is a remarkable and talented lute player. He is known worldwide for his books in making Renaissance lute music available to many. When my musician friend and his wife visit, I usually ask one favor. I ask him to bring one of his beautiful lutes and give me my own special concert. He spends time selecting some pieces that he loves and thinks I will love too. When the music begins, I float into another realm of delight and beauty. The music is wonderful. But do you know what else is wonderful? The friendships with our beautiful friends. There is a knowing. A connection. A gift. A fantastic Rx. That is the kind of house call I am healed by and feel enriched by. To be sure, the music is an incredible gift, but the touch of deep, abiding friendship is an even more powerful elixir.
What I remember most about that frightening night when my beloved grandma struggled with a devastating stroke, was love. It was the love I felt for her. It was the love I knew she had for me. It was the bold, dedicated care my parents gave upon their return. But there is one other image that holds me from that night. It is the kind, gentle, smiling eyes and touch of Dr. Corbett. He had a way of connecting that was beyond a medical offering. He held my grandma's hand. He patted her and talked so gently and respectfully to her. He reassured her that he was going to take care of her and of us. I remember he had big brown eyes and curly dark hair. He had such a fantastic smile. He smiled so often and so much that there were deep smile wrinkles across his handsome, tanned face. He, himself, was the best Rx available. He was a friend and a person of capable care and deep love. Dr. Corbett saw us through many times of illness and challenge. He understood touch, story, timing, and connection.
I am grateful for the good medicine of friends, stories, music, and compassion. I am so thankful to be created in love to love. Let it be who I am and who I remain. Amen.
Relationships as the Spiritual Web of our Lives
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Relationships are the spiritual web of our lives. The crucial strands of family, intimate relationships, marriage, friends, community, nature, and place and the wider world.
The quality of our spiritual lives is measured by these essential bonds. Indeed, our relationship with God is reflected and expressed in these and other relationships.
They are the essential meaning and miracle in our days. They are the arena in which we exercise our values and express our visions.
Relationships enrich our lives with intimacy, purpose, healing, and wholeness. They also draw out our fear, anger, envy, hatred, pain, greed, and shame. Through inner work, we can befriend the shadow, face death, and renew our spirits.
As we explore our relationships and the feelings that come with them, we find that they are hitched to everything else in the world. We are parts of the whole and obligated to love both the familiar and the mysterious, often fearsome “other.”
Although terrible and divisive forces may eat away at our relationships, the spiritual web can never be destroyed. The Spirit sustains us as we patch and reweave the web again and again.
Finally, relationships are our training ground. “Being human is an accomplishment like playing an instrument.” Michael Ignatieff once observed. “It takes practice.” Through our connections with the whole and the holy, we learn how to be fully human.
The Art of Making Connections
Separateness is an illusion. That's what we learn through the spiritual practice of connections. Everything is interrelated — in time, space, and our very being. Both religion and science reveal this truth — Hinduism's image of Indra's net, Buddhism's understanding of interbeing, the experiences of the mystics, the teachings of ecology and physics, even the Internet. One definition of spirituality is "the art of making connections." There are certain givens: The one is made up of many. One thing always leads to another. Everything is related to everything else. You practice connections, then, by consciously tracing the links connecting you with other beings. Any point is a good starting place — your family line, your work, your back yard. Watch for the moments when the separations disappear. And don't be shy about naming mystical experiences as such when you experience them.