The Courier

Often enough we have heard the phrase: “At least you have your health.”

This usually means that someone you know is struggling to say something positive, when in fact saying nothing would be more empathetic. This phrase only helps underline the fact that a person is living through a hard time, and no end seems to be in sight!  And then there comes the time when someone is critically ill.

I am aware of a few military members who have heart problems; Some are awaiting surgery. This is a great cause of anxiety, and has an impact on every aspect of the member’s life, work and play. If I, as a chaplain, begin to talk about the bright side of life, how much credibility would I have with an individual whose life itself may be at risk?

A few years ago, I recall overhearing a conversation between my parish Warden and a Deacons new widow. He told her, at least three times within five minutes, that “everything was going to be alright.” He didn’t talk about what he could do to see that she did not experience any financial hardship, neither did he say anything else that would have given the widow any comfort. He was talking for the sake of talking, and being actively supportive of a mourning woman. In other words, he was grappling with his own distress and his own sorrow.

Most often, a person feeling pain simply does not wish to feel alone as well.  This does not mean that one needs somebody by their side or holding their hand twenty-four-seven, but to be reassured that darkness has not engulfed one, and that there is somehow a way up and out of “the pit.”  For this, each person finds a personal answer.

And then, when a person is not healthy, one great challenge is somehow to decide for oneself where meaning lies and where it might be found. (A person who does not seek any kind of meaning is a very rare “species.”)

Is meaning in my work, my family, my faith, or yet to be identified? It can be partly in all of these things all at the same time.

When I have a religious faith, it does not mean that I have found the answer to every existential and spiritual question that I have. It may mean simply that I believe that sometime, somewhere I’ll have the answers, and yet not fully understand them. We live in a boundless cosmos, how could I think that I can have all knowledge?  Or control over anything other than what I myself do?

The main goal, if you will, is getting from one day to the next or rather from one “situation” to the next. I might find a way of jumping hurdles, or not, as the case may be.  A basic part of dealing with troubles is accepting them for what they are, as part of life in this “fallen” world.

Denying reality brings more harm.

 

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