Friday Five: What sustains you?

Sally from RevGals hosts this week’s Friday Five:

Over the last year I have found that life has been tough for various reasons, in bits and pieces I might cope with them all, but one after another in a relentless overlapping procession has left me drained and in need of resources that bring life.

Sometimes even those resources are hard to lay my hands on, but even then if I choose to be mindful the memory of them can be sustaining. I am reminded of the words of Psalm 139…

Where could I go to get away from your spirit?
Where could I go to escape your presence?
If I went up to heaven, you would be there.
If I went down to the grave,[a] you would be there too!
If I could fly on the wings of dawn,
stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—
10         even there your hand would guide me;
even there your strong hand would hold me tight!
11 If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;
the light will become night around me,”
12     even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!
Nighttime would shine bright as day,
because darkness is the same as light to you!

So I wonder…

1. What brings you light in the dark places?  As someone who is more attuned to extroversion than introversion, I sometimes find that I need “space” to process the emotional wear-and-tear of chaplaincy. Frequently I see God at work as I observe Creation. The changing of seasons, the soft wind in the trees, the squirrels under the bird feeder… they remind me that “SOMEONE” is bigger than my circumstances, and I can walk through them in Company with the Eternal One, the Holy One.

2. How do you connect/reconnect with God, and where do you find him/her holding you? I experimented with my photography during my last unit of CPE. I had my camera with me every day (usually left it in the car), and my cell phone has a digital camera. Reflecting on the images that I captured each day gave me a new focus (pun intended). It helped me to slow down and see things through a God-lens.

For instance, this photo and poem came from a walk through the hospital on my way home. The setting sun made a pattern on the carpet and resonated with my work that day, one where many of my hours were spent “walking through the valley of the shadow of death.” I am a “Shadow Walker.” It is a Calling and a privilege.

Shadow Walker

I am a shadow walker.
I stand in halls and rooms and hear
the saddest news. One can hardly grasp
the waves of desperation, fear and grief
that roll over like stormclouds.

I am a shadow walker.
I sometimes wait with those in the depths
and cry. And when my tears
have slowed, I point my face
back to the Light, the Promise, the Source of Hope:
the Spirit in me calls, deep as to deep.

I am a shadow walker.
I know that I may scare you.
because I walk this path. But when I come alongside
it is not to usher you to your place of darkness,
but to listen as you search for a way back
to the brightness of healing and hope.

I am a shadow walker
with Christ.

~Deb Vaughn

3. Is there a prayer/poem/piece of liturgy that speaks life/sustains you? There are many, but recently I have relied on two works:

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” ~Julian of Norwich

Let nothing disturb thee,
Nothing affright thee
All things are passing;
God never changeth;
Patient endurance
Attaineth to all things;
Who God possesseth
In nothing is wanting;
Alone God sufficeth.

Teresa of Avila

                   H. W. Longfellow (translator).

I think perhaps our sweet, slightly neurotic Tiria represents this sense of deep peace and security. (It’s ironic because of our three cats, she is the one who is the most paranoid. Yet when she sleeps, it is with deep peace.)

4. Is there a piece of music that lifts your heart? (share it or a link to it.) Recently I found a setting of the hymn How Can I Keep From Singing? as performed by Enya.  It has been encouraging and blessing me.


5. Is there a place you run to (even in your imagination?)

Yeah… This is the back screened in porch of my mom’s place in SC… a great place to chill, drink some tea and watch life at the beach go by… 🙂

Bonus: Add pictures to any/all of these 🙂

2 thoughts on “Friday Five: What sustains you?

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