Thursday, February 22, 2007

Caring for the self and Remembering a Son

I always get a little crazy and blue in the week leading up to Migi's birthday. Somehow this year was more difficult than the previous ones even if I was now close to nine years away from his loss. Perhaps the knowledge that he is now a teen-ager triggered my deep sense of loss this time around.

For the uninformed, Migi is my 4 year old son who died in June 1998 from complications due to an open heart surgery. It's been close to nine years now and yesterday, February 21, I like to think that he turned 13 in heaven.

My good friend T, and I hied off to Tagaytay early Monday morning for a huge slice of quiet time. We decided to stay overnight at one of my soul sanctuaries -- the Good Shepherd Convent in Tagaytay City. God always knows what we need even before we ask for it and looking back now on the events that have transpired over the last four days, I was certainly meant to be with the Good Shepherd sisters last February 19.

We arrived early enough to savor the mid-morning breeze and were warmly welcomed by the sisters. Although I am no longer a practicing Catholic, spending time at the convent, amidst it's lovely gardens and being so close to nature, has always been a healing experience for me. T spent the greater part of the morning talking to Sister Rose while I settled quietly into our spartan room on the convent's third floor and caught up with much-needed sleep. The 19th was the start of a personal 3-day hiatus from life's stresses and a shutting out of everything and everyone (except family and very close friends). After lunch, T and I each sequestered a hammock and we just hung out there alternately meditating, chatting and reading God's word. I know, it sounds like a weird combination but that's how T and I manage to throw our cares and worries to the wind. To each her own formula.

Sometime in the early afternoon, a bit of distressing news came to me and I was momentarily taken over by a deep sadness. Taking hold of my Bible, I turned to my devotional that day, and how quickly the Lord addressed the cries of my heart. Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd was my reading for the day. And to add even further comfort, it was like someone asked me - "And where do you find yourself this day?" - at the Good Shepherd convent! What further reassurance did I need from the Lord that everything would be all right and He would take care of all my anxieties? HE had spoken loud and clear to me that afternoon.

When it became a little cooler, T and I moved down to where the labyrinth was and we took turns walking it. Coming to the convent and walking the labyrinth has always been part of my rituals whenever I needed to make a major decision or needed enlightenment on certain issues. That day was no exception. To the uninitiated, a labyrinth, as defined by the Lessons for Life website "is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. The Labyrinth represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. At its most basic level the labyrinth is a metaphor for the journey to the center of your deepest self and back out into the world with a broadened understanding of who you are."

T went ahead and walked the sacred path as I sat in the shade to meditate further and take photos of the beautiful scenery. When she was done, it was my turn to enter the path and think about my life and the decisions I needed to make. Try as I could to focus and steady my breathing, I was bothered with too many issues buzzing around in my head. When I finally got to the center of meditation, I closed my eyes and just stared at the bowl of water with lilies that was in front of me. When I opened my eyes, the thought, "BE still and know that I am God." came to me and was repeated several times. Prayer as they say is always practiced two ways - one is when you talk to God in a very personal way to thank Him, praise Him and and ask for whatever it is you need; and the second type of prayer is when you just sit still and listen to His voice and His leading.

T and I called it a day at 9PM and though it was all quiet in the halls and pitch black outside our window, save for a few stars, we slept oh-so soundly. I had no worries. H was home with the kids, allowing me this private time to unwind and regroup in God's garden. The following morning, we woke up refreshed and greeted by a glorious sunrise. After a hearty breakfast (oh how the nuns love to feed their guests with delicious home cooked meals!) we again hibernated on our hammocks for some more quiet time before heading back into the city.

Time spent quietly in HIS presence and surrounded by the magnificent work of His hands is am experience I would recommend to all mid-lifers. It is an advocacy I have begun to espouse to all women I know. Quiet time always helps us return to our center and our focus on HIM who knows our heart .

God is ever present in the sunsets of our lives...

as well as the sunrise...

and He has his eye on us 24/7. Matthew 8:26 says - "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. are you not worth much more than they?"

Whatever you are going through right now, or wherever you are on your own life's journey, God has placed you there for a reason.

"Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path... exactly where you are meant to be right now... And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love." - Caroline Adams

Next -- Pampering the body and the spirit


noemi said...

I knew you were on quiet time yesterday but I still thought of you. One day, I'll take that trip to Tagaytay.

Ingrid said...

OMG, Cathy!!!! i'm sorry to hear about your son! i can't even begin to imagine what you went thru and how you survived the pain. i'm a mom & my son's now 14 (born in 1992), more or less about 1-2 yrs. older than your son. oooooh my, my heart weeps for you. i had a younger brother who was murdered when he was 9, back in 1984 and to this day, our mom is still teary-eyed whenever our brother comes up in our conversations or if something reminds her of him. there's no time-frame for grief, we can take as much time as we can to recover from our loss but we will never get to that point when we can say, we're over it. no we won't!!! they're always forever alive in our hearts and minds. we can learn to smile through our pain but we will never be able to let go. i see that in my mother's face, 23 yrs down the road, her pain's still apparent. take care!!! take it easy!