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An Unexpected Retreat

I’ve been feeling really burned out lately…mainly caused by too much “burning the candle at both ends”.  Working a full time job, blogging, hosting a radio show and running to the hospital to visit my mother has really taken a toll on me.  The other day, I was telling my wife that I just wished I could take my prayer books and just go spend a few days with the Lord.  Eileen told me that I should “take a retreat” from my evangelization activities and just spend some time in prayer with Jesus.

It sounded like a good idea, but how could I just drop everything?  I need to blog, tweet and post on Facebook or else the world will fall apart!  As He often does, the Lord found a way to make this happen.  Over the weekend, my mother was hospitalized with pneumonia.  Her illness is complicated by the fact that she is 82 years old and has severe Alzheimer’s disease.  She has been fed through a tube for several years, as a result of forgetting how to eat.  She no longer walks, not due to anything physical, but because she doesn’t remember how.  Throughout the weekend, my sister and I took turns visiting Mom in the hospital.  My sister wasn’t able to go today, so I made the decision to cancel my nightly radio show and go to the hospital.  I had no idea of the blessing that awaited me!

One of the tricky things about dealing with my mother is the communication aspect.  She’s hasn’t known who I am (at least she can’t verbalize it) for a long time and her speech is a mixture of random English words, some Polish and a lot of gibberish.  I try my best to carry on a conversation, but I honestly don’t expect too much in return.  I smile at Mom and tell her I love her.  Sometimes she smiles back, sometimes she tells me, ” I love you”.  Often she’ll start laughing and I’ll laugh too, never quite sure of what’s so funny.

For some reason, I was really looking forward to seeing Mom tonight.  When I walked in the room, I was pleased.  Her color was better, the cough was less pronounced and she was in a good mood.  As soon as I saw her, my worries vanished and I was a child again.  I smiled at my mother and she smiled back at me.  She laughed and I laughed.  For a little while, the worry and stress I’d been experiencing disappeared.  I imagined the times that she probably smiled to me when I was a baby and I would respond.  I felt a sense of peace as I stood by Mom’s bedside; a peace that I NEEDED to feel!

I learned about charity when a very compassionate nurse came in to take my mother’s vital signs.  She was obviously a very caring person who treated my mother with respect and dignity even though Mom was giving her a hard time (my mother hasn’t forgotten how to be feisty!). 

At the end of our visit, I kissed Mom and told her I loved her.  I made the sign of the cross on her forehead and asked God to bless her.  Then I walked to the hospital chapel and spent some quiet time with the Lord.  Since this was a Catholic Hospital, they have a beautiful chapel (see picture), complete with the Blessed Sacrament.  As I sat alone with Jesus, I was at peace.

I walked to my car feeling a lot better than when I first arrived.  It then dawned on me that I just had my ”retreat” and it was a good one.  Thank you, Jesus, for being a great retreat master!

One Comment

  1. JoAnn Turner says:

    You learned an important lesson!! A retreat does not have to be a “get away from it all” or for a day, weekend, or week. It can be anytime you stop, relax and listen to our Lord. I’m glad you found some peace. God Bless.

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