Sunday, May 22, 2022

Being patient is required when being a patient in life

A second blog reflection for May 2022

Many, if not most of us, can be patients in our lives.  We can get ill, mishaps may happen to us, parts of our bodies may get weakened due to infections and we may also get infected by afflictions just by being exposed to the general public without putting on the recommended personal protection devices like masks and keeping our distance from the people outside of our homes.  When we do get infected or ill in these ways, every human being has the hope that the infection will be fought by getting medical care and treatment, and that it will be soon that the body will recover from the infection and become stronger.  No one likes being weakened by illness or infections, and quite often, the recovery process is not as simple as just getting the right amount of drugs or treatment.  The truth is that it not only takes care and dedication, but that it does require the virtue of patience, which is something that may be lacking in many people.  

These days, when I happen to bump into people outside of the home, it doesn’t take long before these people ask me in no uncertain terms “So, Fr Luke, how are you getting on now that it has been x number of months since your unfortunate accident whilst exercising?”   The reality is that the recuperation path toward wholeness and wellness is something that I find rather daunting, unnerving and disconcerting.  But it is also true that I struggle when trying to put it across to the person who asks me that question about my health.  I find myself trying in many ways to bring it across to the person the truth that coming to the point in life where we can safely say that we are out of the woods and are on the road to full recovery is a thing that I have achieved.  The fact is that I am still not 100% recovered and can say for a fact that the worst is now behind me.  The time since the accident that happened to me is now almost a year, but I am still not fully in the clear, with quite a few parts of my body that are giving my doctors the inability to tell me that I am now in a recovered state.  But I am grateful for the fact that most of the people I speak to in these situations end up being grateful to me for being clear about my struggle with my physical weakness and constant feeling of tiredness in life.  Some of them have even told me that I am a good model for them when they themselves undergo any kind of similar suffering in life.  

In my life as a priest, I am often asked for advice about how to deal with challenges that humans face in life.  Telling people truth in ways that moves hearts and changes life in others isn’t a matter of articulating in words of phrases that has truth in them.  It is another thing to impress a person, move a heart and mind, and ends up helping the listener to understand himself more deeply, in a way that it brings true admiration.  But what is needed rather is to live life in such a way that the listener changes his or her habits, stops an addiction in life, stops fearing and decides that to still live in an angered way is a true way of becoming a saint.

I have come to see that part of the way our lives need to convey this truth is by being seen with a certain joy that comes from our countenance when we meet people.  When they see that we have a certain joy that can be read when they see our faces light up when speaking about our lives is a dynamic part of us that wants to be a source of light in the lives of so many others.  

When we are ill or in a state of recovery, we are easily called being patients.  A synonym sounding like that word is when a person isn’t in a rush to get out of that state of illness, and it requires of the human person to be patient, even when being a patient.  Some lessons take a long time to impart its truth to us in life, and to me, this long process toward full recovery has brought the difference out so clearly to me - between being patient in life, and how to be a patient patient.  I have learnt that it is indeed a long a slow process for one to come out of being a patient of an illness, to saying that my waiting time is over.  I pray that I will take home with me important points in my struggle with patience so that I can truly be useful to my parishioners who come to me seeking guidance and advice when faced with challenges that take time.

Once again, I want to express my sincere thanks to many of my friends and well-wishers who have prayed with and for me since my accident last May, and are still praying for me on a very regular basis.  I will be praying for all of you and sending you the blessings and graces that only God can give.  

Sunday, May 15, 2022

The recovery path after an accident.

A long delayed reflection from me.

Admittedly, it has been quite a while since my last blog entry.  I encountered an accident while out doing my rather long-distance walks in May last year, and a car hit me causing a head injury to my skull.  I was sent to the hospital and the doctors decided that after a medical examination of my injury, that two parts of my skull had to be removed for the injury to heal properly.  This left two parts of my skull that needed to be replaced, and it was decided that the two plates would be made in Switzerland, and through a cranioplasty operation, the parts of my head which had parts removed would be replaced by the metal plates.  That surgery had to be delayed till early January this year, and I am now about four months post cranioplasty surgery.  The recovery from the surgery has had its up and down moments, but I am still not quite out of the woods and am still in my medical leave.  

While I am grateful that the surgery went well without a hitch, I have experienced a few physical difficulties in living as normally as I would like.  Parts of the injury had damaged my hearing on my left ear, and I am constantly feeling a diminished hearing on that side of my head.  I had an ENT doctor look at my hearing and he recommended that I purchase and use a hearing aid on that ear.  I followed the instructions, and am now in active use of my hearing aid, that allows the volume of sound to be heightened, giving me a better sense of confidence on that side of my ears.  I found the placement of the hearing aid to be rather troublesome, but I also realise that being used to such aids takes time.  I am slowly getting used to it, and often, I take along with me the box which the hearing aid came with, to allow me to remove and house the aid in a safe place when I feel that the hearing aid can be done without.  I haven’t really used the housing box all that often, but carrying it around gives me a sense of confidence.

I keep telling myself that I need to get used to using the hearing aid when seeing people, as this will come in handy when I minister to the faithful as a confessor priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I certainly wouldn’t want to hear the wrong things when guiding the people in their spiritual lives, and it would be a tragedy if I think they are saying things that they really are not saying.  My getting used to wearing and working with the hearing aid attached to my ear is something that I need to do now, so that when my priestly duties returns, I will feel more confident and able to aid them as their priest.

I have also realised that having diminished hearing does impact negatively how loudly I speak to a group of people.  Some kind people have pointed out that without the hearing aid, I tend to talk in a very loud way, and part of the reason is because it allows me to hear myself speaking.  Wearing and using the hearing aid helps me to overcome this fear of not being heard, and this is one good reason for me to get used to wearing the aid in my everyday life now.

While I am recovering at my mother’s home while on Medical Leave, I celebrate daily Mass at home in the study, and it gives mum the ability to be at Mass every day.  Mum isn’t physically able to walk alone to the parish for daily Mass, so this is a good arrangement for her.  I’ve noticed that without the hearing aid in place in the left ear, I sometimes tend to reduce my volume at Mass to almost being a mumble.  If I get used to this, I may end up mumbling as a Celebrant at the Mass in Church when I get back to normal duties in the Parish.  I am thankful that I have an inner zeal to celebrate a daily Mass at home, and there have hardly been days when I decided to stay in my bed and not get up early at 6am to get ready for the Eucharist which normally starts at about 6:45am.  I have the Holy Spirit to thank for this zeal for the Mass.

I am also very thankful for the service of the Universalis app on the iPad because it allows me access to the daily Morning Office prayers, and those of the Terce, Sext and Evening Prayer as well.  I would be very lost without Universalis, and it has kept me on track to being regular in my daily Divine Office prayers.  

One thing that I keep forgetting to do is to be thankful for the work that the Hearing Aid has been helping me to do.  Instead, what I feel I have done is to feel sorry for myself that I am now living life with a diminished level of hearing in one of my ears.  It’s a sign of being ungrateful, which is something that can be quite sad.  If using the aid makes me aware of the need to rely on the technology to elevate my hearing, it will also help me to become a more useful and better priest to my parishioners.  I believe that the Holy Spirit has opened me up to this truth which I have been keeping away from.  

Many of my blog readers have reached out to me and asked why I hadn’t written my reflections for such a long time, but part of the reason was because I was nursing a regret deep inside of me for having been in that accident in May of last year.  Wrongly, I felt that staying away from the blog would help me to come to a state of life where I no longer am living in a negative state of mind.  I hope this blog entry will change things for me.

I have also been told repeatedly by friends and parishioners that they have been praying for my recovery incessantly.  For this I am deeply grateful, and I too, have been praying for them very regularly, as well as offering up Masses for them.  

My spiritual readings have taught me many things, and one of the things that I recall is that the Word of God is alive and active.  My being sustained all these months by the love and truth of God bears witness to how alive the Word of God is.  The strange thing is that even though one of my ears has diminished hearing, both my eyes are opened to the love, truth and value that God’s Word has in and through Scripture.  

One of the books that have opened my eyes is the late Cardinal Basil Hume’s book The Mystery of the Cross.  It has helped me tide through the dark moments in my medical leave, and I believe it will help me in my catechesis of adults and teenagers in the parish.  If you, my reader, have not come across the late Cardinal Hume’s book, I would advice you to get a copy of it for yourself.  Good spiritual guides in life are hard to come by and many don’t look for them in their lives.  A good spiritual book is just as effective, especially one which is written in a short and succinct style.  

May God keep your eyes and ears opened to the truth of his love and mercy.  And let us keep praying for one another.  God bless!

Fr Luke