June 24, 2016
"There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out all fear." - 1 John 4:18
Last Friday, we talked about fear. Although we all experience it, we do not have to be consumed or led by it, nor do we need to be ashamed of or run from it. We need to love. We need to make conscious contact with our Higher Power, a power of love that will dispel the power fear has over us.
I shared a personal story about my friend Chris Norman who wrote a beautiful book entitled The Grateful Road as he was dying of Lou Gehrig's Disease. Chris wrote the book for his two young children, so they would always remember the beauty, joy, and inspiration he so deeply believed in and lived for. Through an experience that could have been wrought with fear, there was instead perfect love.
"Through time you will connect with the majesty of an individual relationship with G-d. Never let third parties interfere with this. It is your personal relationship and it is the most important thing you can do. As you grow in the spiritual warmth of this unfathomable love, your mission in life will begin to take on a greater purpose: you will become intentional beings, armed with the command of forgiveness, the beauty of kindness, and the majesty of unconditional love. It is then you will understand that what we learn here are forever lessons, as we are forever beings.” - Chris Norman, The Grateful Road
There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer;
No disease that enough love will not heal;
No door that enough love will not open;
No gulf that enough love will not bridge;
No wall that enough love will not throw down;
No sin that enough love will not redeem.
It makes no difference how deeply seated may be the trouble,
How hopeless the outlook,
How muddles the tangle,
How great the mistake,
A sufficient realization will dissolve it all...
If only you could love enough,
you would be the happiest and most powerful being
in the world. - Emmet Fox
"Whatever sorrow there is, whatever sickness there is, whatever hatred there is, whatever unrest there is, Spirit is stronger. The power of love rises up to meet it.” - Ellen Grace O'Brien
We then watched three videos. The first is a beautiful video of people sharing their answers to the question, "What is G-d?" The second is short piece by Marianne Williamson on Love and Fear. The last video is the patients’ favorite. Enjoy!
In small groups, we asked the following questions:
What are you afraid of?
Answers included: The guy in the mirror, failing, not being perfect, rejection, change, success, feelings, relapse, being alone.
If I wasn't afraid I would...
Answers included: Go back to school, really share my true self, go home.
Something happened on Friday that was very telling.
We've added a new "ritual" at the beginning of our large group discussion. I ask the patients to share any joys – this ranges from saving money at the grocery, getting into the Vocational Program, speaking to a parent, a random act of kindness, being at Caron Renaissance, and often, being alive.
Afterwards, the patients share prayer requests for themselves or those they love. So many patients have shared their uncertainty of a Higher Power or the power of prayer. And yet, on Friday we had 41 requests. It seems they believe in the power of other's prayers. I'm grateful for this... it's a start.
All of the patients received a bookmark with this poem:
The Grateful Road
On this road, you will find that
we are all together.
Some of us walk faster.
Some of us carry others.
Some of us actually go back to
help those who are stuck.
We all take side trips down
meandering paths, richer and
wiser for the experience.
Somewhere during this journey, you
will become aware that all is love.
False gods of fear, anger, resentment,
and self-centeredness disappear.
It is then that you become a beacon
for others, able to forgive, laugh and
love, regardless of circumstance.
It is then that you will have arrived
- Chris Norman
Let perfect love (G-d’s love) heal you, comfort you, guide you, and bless you.
Reverend Laurie Durgan