Believing in Love

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when feeling it not.
I believe in God even when he is silent.

This was an inscription found on the walls of a cellar in Cologne, Germany, where several people of the Jewish faith hid from the Nazis during World War II.

How do you react on a cloudy day?

There are days that the visible world tempts to overcome our beliefs in things we can’t see. We know, with our logical minds, that there is a star we call the sun, and it brings warmth to our world – warmth that provides life-giving chemistry to plants, and to us! We know that our bodies crave vitamins which can be found in exposure to sunlight. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people, and often the cure is sitting under a light which mimics the sun.

I can’t reach out and touch Love, but yet I can reach out and touch something I love. Do I feel love everyday? Feelings are reactions to events – if there is no event which makes me feel love, does that mean love no longer exists? Responses are our actions based on thoughtfulness.  Is love gone forever, or has a fleeting, painful moment tempted our hearts to break?

Some days are harder than others, and some days we really need to feel the presence of our God, to hear from our God, to know that God is present in our lives. It’s not unusual for people to pray to God for this very thing: God be with me during this time. Let me feel your presence. I know – I believe – that you are my God. Amen.

Chaplain Susann

Look to This Day

Look to this day, for it is life.
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Sanskrit proverb

We’ve always tried so hard to control those things we can’t control. Yesterday is out of our control, and yet many of us spend so much time analyzing, apologizing, eulogizing our past. If we have learned a lesson from those days gone by, no matter how hard, at least we have transformed our past into a meaningful and hopefully, happy dream.

As we look toward tomorrow, we know it’s not promised. How many times have we made plans, only for life to intervene! And yet, we always hope for those days ahead. We would have no food if farmers had no hope and planted seeds, hoping for just the right amount of rain and sun, hoping against floods and drought and heat and cold.

My prayer for us today is that we choose to embrace the happiness of the past, living well today, and keeping hope in our vision of tomorrow.

Chaplain Susann

Such a Love

After a long and busy day, I found myself mindlessly scrolling through posts on Twitter, reading the latest headlines, worrying about the growing numbers, lamenting, sorrowing, getting pulled into a thousand evidences of all that is wrong in the world.

And then I saw this post, which stopped the spiral and connected me to a sense of God’s still, pure love in the center of my heart:

“O God, love, who have cherished me gratuitously,
grant that I may cherish you
with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength.”

Gertrud of Helfta, 1256-1306

O God, how blessed we are that you love us as we are, wherever we are, blindspots and imperfections and all. Your love for us is beyond all limit, pouring into our lives a boundless measure of your blessing.

May we have in this day a moment we can offer purely to you. Pure in love, pure in innocence, pure in motive for anything other than grateful connection, Father and child. How blessed we are that you care so tenderly for us. May this great love be the experience of all who need your hope and grace and comfort this day, we pray. Amen.

Chaplain Katherine

Light emerging

At the end of the day yesterday, we had something big to celebrate. A COVID-19 patient who had been perilously ill was discharged from our CICU, on his way to a rehab facility and a full recovery. Nurses, techs, and administration lined the hallways (using social distancing), applauding and cheering him on as EMTs wheeled his gurney to the elevator. One of the nurses Facetimed with his family so they could “be there,” and they were tearful and grateful. It was a moment of joy, of great, beaming hope. It was lived proof that love wins — one heart, one patient, one nurse at a time — and that even in circumstances that feel dark, light is continually emerging.

These moments of light lift and cheer us, boosting our hopes and giving us strength to meet the next need with renewed courage. I’m convinced dozens of these moments happen every single day, gifts of grace meant to lead us forward, lift our spirits, and help us remember we’re not alone.

How will God’s light appear in our experiences today, encouraging and reassuring and guiding us? Let’s keep our hearts and minds open to find out and say “thank you!” when we feel its loving shine.

Chaplain Katherine

PS> The image above is captured from a video we did here at Hancock Health to show that we can still “smile” even though we’re wearing masks:

Rest in the Stroke

Many years ago now, in my last semester of seminary, I was feeling overwhelmed with all the reading, researching, and writing I had to finish before graduation. As the mother of three and a small business owner, I felt exhausted and empty of the resources I felt I needed in order to do anything well. One day, as a reflection in one of my online capstone courses, a fellow student posted something profound:

Long-distance swimmers know something about life that the rest of us learn only gradually: We need to rest in the stroke.

She went on to describe how weary we were all feeling, like we’d never make it to the end of the semester, which was just weeks away. How important it is, she reminded us, to take tiny moments for refreshment, for joy, for kindness, for love, right in the middle of the long marathon stretch we are currently living through.

As I think of this this morning it reminds me of Dr. Rick Hanson’s book, Hardwiring Happiness, in which he says that so often we skate right over the surface of happy moments–noticing beauty, seeing someone’s smile, enjoying a treat we like–while our minds continue to move toward other things. Pausing and really receiving those tiny joys–just for 5 to 7 seconds, letting them sift down into our bodies so we feel their impact in our chest, our heart, our bellies–brings up a natural sense of gratitude and ease. That’s how we know the happiness went all the way in.

As we continue our long-distance journey in responding to the needs around us today, may we make room for breaths of peace and refreshment, take an intentional nanosecond for joy, and remember to rest in the stroke of our loving, best-offered efforts.

Chaplain Katherine

The Long View

“Generations come, and generations go, but the earth remains forever.”

Ecclesiastes 1:4 [NIV]

Margaret* turned 100 years old last month. She lives with her daughter and son-in-law; they had a large party scheduled for her. Unfortunately, due to current events, the party had to be canceled. Instead, her daughter asked friends to mail her cards, and Margaret received over 100 birthday cards. Her response to having her party canceled? “Oh well, there’s always next year.”

Margaret was born into an uncertain world, two years after the flu outbreak of 1918, after the end of World War I, when millions of people died world-wide. In 1920, according to the CDC, the infant mortality rate in the United States was 21 percent. Margaret’s mother died of tuberculosis when she was only eight years old. Margaret has always lived in a world where illness was not well understood.

Almost 100 years later, millions of people are tested annually for tuberculosis; it’s a standard test for anyone working in health care, or where large groups of people live or work in close quarters, such as prisons and schools. Some day in our future, a test for the Coronavirus may become standard as well, or a vaccine will be available at our physician’s offices or clinics. One day, quarantines won’t be necessary for this virus, and its threat will be reduced by the knowledge and experience we gain.

One hundred years later, Margaret has lived through many changes, and yet, some things have remained the same. She told her daughter, “If we cleaned everyday like we’re cleaning now, I bet a whole lot of people wouldn’t get so sick.” Thank you, Margaret, for looking forward to 101!

Chaplain Susann

*Name changed for privacy.

Bringing a Little Light

Will you be walking into a tough situation today? We often do. Sometimes circumstances ask a lot of us–professionally, emotionally, and spiritually. We may wonder whether we’re up to the task.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let is shine…”

We yearn to carry something into those moments that helps to make things better for those who suffer. And we need to be able to walk into those places without falling into the darkness ourselves.

“You are the light of the World. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden”

Matthew 5:14

Here’s the beauty of this Scripture, explained by Fr. Richard Rohr:

“We must wait and work with hope inside of the darkness, while never doubting the light that God always is – and that we are, too.”

Even if we just bring a small amount of our light into the darkness today, God will use that light as an opening, to increase, to abide, to overwhelm any darkness there once was. Amen!

Chaplain Susann