The days surrounding my Charite Disc catastrophic failure are insane. What do you do when you are facing iminent death and have only days to live? You have to get on a plane and withing 48-hours are preparing for emergency surgery? Using your last 48-hours, how do you prepare your home, friends and family to go on without regret and with minimal pain after your death? How do you reassure them that you are prepared and OK to die? That your life was perfect just how it was? How do you say goodbye to your loved ones when your surgeon informs you that you only have a 20% chance of surviving the surgery you are about to undergo… but your death is imminent in days without the surgery.
As the only child of a single mom, how do you look in your mother’s eyes? How do you say goodbye? What words do you use to say goodbye from your hospital gurney before they sweep you into surgery? How do you deal with the nightmares of her sitting alone in the hospital waiting room while you are in O.R.? The single mom that wanted more than anything at that moment to give her life for you – to change places with you…. How? Her only son is more likely to die over the next few hours than not as she sits in horror and shock alone in the waiting room.
How did I get through this? How did I navigate to save my life? What lessons did I learn? And, how do I live everyday now? Overcoming an event like this and going forward with the Hope of a new and better tomorrow can be hard.
Cutting me open down the front to try to get to, and stabilize, my spine. then flipping me over and cutting me down the back to insert more metal screws and clamps... It has taken a while in hospitals and therapy to learn how to walk again and function as normal as possible.
It has taken years to become concious that what happened is really a big deal.
Below is my Thank You note to all those who prayed and supported me and my mom through this.
I wanted to take a moment to write a personal note to each of you who offered me, and my family, your prayers and support during our recent medical crisis. But, how do you say “thank you for saving my life.”
Suffice to say, it took more than “a moment to write”, and it is certainly more than “a note.” It is however, my deeply heart-felt way of thanking you. I am writing this note-turned-essay to express how you truly saved my life.
As I began to write, I quickly realized a simple note could not possibly illustrate the impact your prayers had on my family and me. By way of gratitude, I decided to allow my heart to speak through the pen in hopes of painting a picture depicting the depth and breadth of how you affected my health, my heart, my soul, my life, and comforted my family.
I also wanted to find a way to return to you a gift in a way of "paying-it-forward" - a gift that in some way touches your day, your life, and creates a ripple effect - like a stone thrown into a serene pond nestled deep in a pristine forest that creates subtle waves moving concentrically outward to touch the lives of others.
The medical details of this journey that life recently laid before me, a journey that is by no means over, could never be covered in just this note. The danger and extraordinary medical facets of the crisis are why we truly could never have made it through to this point without you. Obviously, a significant part of this journey was my recent surgery. The surgical team that was assembled to take on the challenge of correcting the complex issues that I faced, with no exaggeration, saved my life. The medical details of what they were able to achieve are miraculous but best told at another time.
The Power of Love and Prayer
More importantly, the surgical team's achievement was not performed in a vacuum. There is a deep, intangable and almost unexplainable awareness of how your personal love and prayers directly affected the surgical team's ability to bring me through the surgery to see another sunrise. There is no doubt in my mind that through your prayers you held me, cradled me in your arms, laid me at the feet of God who in turn cradled me in His arms - and this gave way to a Miracle: restoring me to health of body, reassuring my mind, my spirit, and laying before me a vision and a road leading to a glorious new world.
This gift bestowed by each and every one of you with your prayers and Love with such Grace and Kindness is one for which my gratitude could never adequately be expressed in just a few simple words. This gift you gave was so profound, yet so completely tangible. I felt it. I could actually feel the energy of your prayers. I can't adequately express how I felt physically supported by your Love. I can only hope that you can imagine through the words expressed herein how you helped to heal my body, touched my soul, comforted my family and how you found and opened the gates to Heaven on Earth. It was your Love and prayer that eliminated all the fear that could have easily completely incapacitated us as we faced this surgery. You provided the support to my family that we so very much needed, giving us the strength throughout the ordeal to take the next breath.
Through your prayers you found our collective Source and your Love saved my life. The only way that I could ever attempt to thank you is by illuminating the effects of how your gesture had the power to reach across time and space to save a life. I now KNOW that we all possess this innate ability to change the lives of others - and our own lives - through simple Faith, Prayer, and Love everyday.
I have composed for you a personal essay of the experience with two hopes in mind: 1) to open my heart and find words to relay my deepest gratitude on behalf of myself and my family, and 2) to find a way to give a gift to you – for I truly believe that not only are giving and receiving the same. They are, in their genuine form, two parts of one inseparable action, the effects of which are felt by both parties alike.
An Open Heart
As this essay began to hit the page, some fears crept into my mind. Would some find this preachy? Egocentric? Would the writing sound like it was coming from some crazed Jesus freak? Or worse yet, represent simply the fleeting ramblings, a sudden “pseudo-epiphany” that would quickly fade, written by some guy who just faced a near-death experience? None of my fears could be farther from the truth. This is written with complete humility, in total gratitude and with the knowledge that my family could never have gotten through this without you. The thoughts contained herein are an accumulation of introspection, meditation, stillness, and observation. This is a personal essay that contains thoughts and beliefs that I was inspired to share by your own openness of heart, your Prayers and your Love. If any of this strikes a chord with you – God Bless! If you find any part of it foreign or contrary to the way that you look upon the world, or all of it just an unintelligible pile of words and doo-doo, well that is one of the inherent gifts with which we were all born – Free Will to perceive – and with no offense my response is resoundingly the same, God Bless! So, here goes……………
Dear God - or to whomever, or wherever, the source of Goodness and Grace in each of us individually, and in the world, resides - for simplicities sake, I call this source God;
I have read, have heard, and indeed have experienced your way of shepherding your children so they do not wander too far from the fields of Your Love and from the experience of our birth rights.
It seems that all too often we wander, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, until we find ourselves beyond the fields of Love and far from Home.
Home being Heaven,
Home being Peace,
Home being Joy,
Home being Love,
Home being Abundance,
Home is not a place that any one of your children can build by his/her self in isolation, Home is a union of two or more gathered in Your Name wherein we can approach Your alter and receive our Inheritance and Gifts with which we were each born.
In Faith, you have bestowed on each of us the gift of Free Will, knowing that we can learn from the examples and experiences of others.
The gift of Free Will given each of us can at times have us creating false illusions of ourselves in isolation, or of trials and tribulations that appear to us as insurmountable obstacles to happiness, with the seeming impossibility of finding, or even the ability to believe in, Heaven on Earth. And yet, you never leave our side.
There may come times when Your Power and ever-present guidance will stop us in our tracks, when You loudly proclaim, in fact demand! that we see the world through Your eyes. During these interruptions, these re-directions, which we often perceive as painful or bewildering, you remind us, sometimes in unexpected ways, sometimes in un-noticed ways, or sometimes in the most dramatic, unimaginable and inconceivable ways, the meaning of Love.
God, in addition to Free Will, you have gifted us the tool of Prayer. Prayer is not some esoteric concept, it is not a mystic ritual, it is not magic, and it is not a way for us to attempt to control the course of what will be.
Prayer is Communication
Prayer is Communion.
Prayer is connection to Source.
Prayer is Truth.
Prayer is Forgiveness.
Prayer offers true Vision.
Prayer is Salvation.
Prayer is the way Home.
Prayer is Love.
Prayer is Atonement – which simply allows us to see and to be our true Selves. Prayer reminds us that we do forever remain as God created us - childlike, truly innocent, sinless, vessels of pure Joy, with the mandate to create, to re-create, and to Love. We are born in God's likeness and we forever remain so. We are Love. And prayer is a path to Love.
Prayer is also a path to Miracles - whether done when two or more are gathered in Your Name in congregation by the prayers of a gathering of God's children, or through individual prayer spanning geographic miles, space, and even time.
Although at first it sounds contradictory, Miracles are actually not so miraculous. Miracles simply return us to Source, correct our mistakes, our unintentional wanderings that may have led us ever so slowly, un-noticeably, away from our Heart, away from our Self, away from our Innocence, away from our Joy, away from Abundance, away from Faith, away from Life, away from Love.
A Miracle shifts our manmade illusion of a horizontal space/time continuum wherein every event seems to follow some predictable and formatted linear progression - a concept wherein so many things seem to be out of reach in terms of time and space, a concept where we mistakenly believe that "with a little luck" something might be attainable at some future time or “if circumstances were different”.
Prayer, often through what we call a Miracle, shifts our experience of the world to that of God's, to the true reality of the vertical space/time continuum wherein:
all Love is available to everyone at every moment.
This is God’s world; the world into which each of us was born and still remain.
I can hear a collective “space/time continuum – what the **?” from many of you reading this. But, it is not really a foreign experience to any of us. Have you ever fallen in Love? – when all of a sudden you feel transported straight upwards to a whole new dimension, and you see before you a whole new world that you never saw before? The entire space/time continuum goes vertical in an instant – a Holy Instant. This is what a Miracle is. It is that feeling when time seems to stand still, when you just seem “to know". If you really think about it, this happens to us everyday in common, often unnoticed ways - time stands still and you just seem “to know” things. It happens everyday when you are standing, even if for just a moment, in the Light, when you are choosing with your own Free Will, Love. Our goal is to Live in that space at all times – not only to stand in the light but to walk in the Light.
The Big Picture
No one of us can possibly ever see the "Big Picture". As a matter of fact, only if we truly realize that it is impossible for us to see the "Big Picture" can we really be assured we are on the right road. We are not supposed to have all the answers. We never could see how far reaching or how deeply moving are the ripples of our individual thoughts and actions - how they intertwine and effect the lives of others, the Joy of others, and indeed the heartbeat of the entire world. The concentric waves of our daily thoughts will effect someone, somewhere, at sometime. Many times the domino effect of what we say, what we do, and even what we think may touch someone whom we will never even meet.
As it has been said: Joy begets Joy, so too remember Love begets Love.
Remember that God's gift of Free Will gives us access to His great power. Have no doubt that every moment of every day, the efficacy of every thought you have, every action you take, every prayer you pray, has far reaching effects - effects that we could sometimes never imagine possible.
Always choose Love over fear and doubt. Choosing Love, which many times we fear will leave us weak and vulnerable, does the total opposite. By choosing Love in all situations and at every moment, you are choosing to have God stand beside you; and all that is His, all that has been given you in His Name, is at your ready. When you choose Love, His strength is yours, His Vision is yours, His Words are yours, His effects are manifest through you, and you will stand tall, you will be invulnerable, and your life and the lives of those around you will be filled with Joy and Abundance.
I hope this letter is able to paint for you a picture of how the presence of your love, your prayers, were felt in the most real, profound and yet tangible way.
The only way I could think of repaying you was to hopefully find the words through which you would know that you created a Miracle. And, if in doing so I could touch your life in a fraction of the way that you touched mine, perhaps I could "pay-it-forward".
We Are One
You have taught me that Prayer, Kindness, and Love have very real effects. Free Will, Prayer and Miracles are not esoteric anomalies. As I reflect, I realize that Miracles are an everyday occurrence - although we don't always recognize them as such. In God's world, where we are all His Children and we still live untainted in our true birthplace wherein He watches over us in a Garden of Eden, in Heaven on Earth.
In His world, there is no order of difficulty in Miracles. Even though in this vast manmade world that we have created to veil our true beautiful selves, we perceive some Miracles as small and some large; In the eyes of God all Miracles are the same - simple corrections of our mistakes, a redirection from our wanderings, glimpses of Heaven. Those everyday Miracles to which we need attune ourselves are those Holy Instants in which we find ourselves smiling for no apparent reason, when we feel in our hearts that something good has just happened. We find ourselves sometimes smiling without even realizing it. We have all experienced it:
Someone asks “Hey Jane/Joe – why are you smiling?”
and you reply “I don’t know. I just am.”
Please be kind, be calm, and be loving every moment of your life.
Rest assured - Miracles present themselves everyday. There is no difference if that Miracle appears as a medical Miracle when your Prayers effect and intervene to save someone’s life; or if it appears as an everyday passing Miracle.
Perhaps you find yourself in an elevator with a total stranger. Your eyes meet and suddenly time seems to stand still in a Holy Instant. The time/space continuum suddenly shifts vertical and you are suddenly transported to the Kingdom of God. In an instant there is an unexplainable connection - something good has just happened – you feel weightless – you feel breathless - you feel safe - you feel beauty - you feel Love – you two “strangers” share a simple wordless smile – and in that union you have momentarily glimpsed Heaven. It happens everyday. Use your Free Will and choose to live every moment of your Life in that space. You will find Heaven on Earth.
I have seen the un-seeable and I have learned so much. When you don’t have enough strength to keep yourself alive, to take the next breath or the next step, others will. Your Brother/God/Love will catch you in his arms and carry you through to see the next sunrise! The Beauty, Grace and Power that words cannot explain –as I approached the threshold in my walker - my body weak and my mind empty - a strangers voice said "I will open the door for you" and it was his strength that forged a path for me to pass through into the Light. That is when I saw Christs face, I first knew God and entered Heaven on earth. God shone through my Brothers & Sisters. They were, they are so strong and so beautiful. I am no longer afraid of death, I am no longer afraid of life.
With all my love and gratitude, on behalf of my family and me, I wish that everyday of your Life is filled with Joy, Love, Abundance and Miracles.