*Care of Souls: Nurturing, Supporting, Healing, and Restoration in the Church by Dr. David G. Benner. Dr. David and his wife, Juliet Benner are residents of Vancouver Island in Canada. David is an internationally known clinical psychologist and author of more than 20 books on psychology and spirituality. He was a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at Psychological Studies Institute (Atlanta, USA). He was also the Distinguished Author in Residence at Carey Theological College, University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), and serves as a consultant in spirituality and health to a number of organizations around the world. Juliet is a spiritual director with a special interest in the use of religious art as a resource in Christian contemplation and spiritual formation. She is a consultant in art and spirituality for the Carey Centre at University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada). Dr. and Mrs. Benner’s lecturing and consulting works have taken them to South Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines. When they are not working they enjoy jazz and choral music, hiking, sailing, cooking, and conversation with people about their journey. I had the privilege of attending retreats with Dr. David and Juliet Benner as Retreat Directors.
A Reflection on Arthur Miller’s “Death of A Salesman”
Tragic, but I think Willy had “killed himself” long before he drove himself to death. He deadened himself from that unhealthy fear of defeat by trying to do what he thought was right. And when he could no longer do it right, his only option was [physical] death than face the terrifying reality that he was no longer in control, that he could no longer give orders for Biff to obey. He failed to see that he had a loving, supportive family and close friends to stand by him during difficult periods. What is more disappointing than someone who stubbornly refused to receive help and had given up hope! How heartbreaking.
What do I feel moved to do? If Biff is a friend, and with his father’s “purpose for living” had ceased, I wished to him that he could talk to a trusted someone or a counselor or a spiritual mentor, who could gradually help him deal with his struggles. There are no guarantees that confronting life issues will not be painful. His father’s death may still haunt him for life. And grief may catch him unaware. And when he’s caught, he may seem unable to make sense of what was and what is yet to be. But in time, a small light shall flicker. And as the light emerges, I pray that Biff will begin to understand.
It was greeted with enthusiastic reviews, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1949, the 1949 Tony Award for Best Play, as well as the New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play. Death of a Salesman was the first play to win these three major awards, helping to establish Miller as an internationally known playwright.”- Wikipedia
Straight from the Heart
by Kitt M.
Straight from the Heart
by Kitt M.
It was not easy for me at first especially after one physical condition to another. (I felt so cared for by my husband.) But later I realized womanhood is more than bearing or having children. It’s in the heart. If I believe in my heart that I am less of a woman, less desirable, I would still feel that way with or without a child. If we (women) keep seeking from men to give us meaning, we will only be disappointed (Marianne Williamson, “A Woman’s Worth”). We forget that men are as wounded as we are. We need to realize that they cannot give meaning to our lives, that they cannot take away the loneliness in our hearts. There’s only one we can count on and that is God. We can only find our worth in the living God whose great love for us never ceases. We are loved!
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
“Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby.
Fill the air with song, you who never experienced childbirth!
You’re ending up with far more children
than all those childbearing women.” God says so!
– Isaiah 54:1 The Message
Synopsis of the song, “Moving On”
Lyrics & Music: Kitt Macayayong-Molina
If I can see what I want to be
If I could be what I wanted to see
If I can look through the face of tomorrow
Would I feel safe to leave the past behind?
If I can right a wrong with my might
With my might a wrong could be justified
If I can look away from the face of sorrow
Would I feel safe to leave the hurts behind?
Life is a struggle
And seems easy if we just keep moving on
Life is what we make it
If we can’t pull through let’s not fake it
And just move on, just moving on.
Kung ang isip di mapanatag
(If your mind is bothered)
Di rin makamtan ang kapayapaan
(and peace seems elusive)
Hinahabol-habol ang kinabukasan
(So you run after the days)
Ligalig at patungo kung saan.
(yet lose yourself in the chase.)
Kung manahimik kahit sansaglit
(Hush and be still for a moment)
Makinig nang di mawaglit
(Listen so as not to forget)
Sa bulong nang gabi na umaawit
(The evening blows to whisper)
Umaga’y di dapat habulin ng pilit.
(singing, “Wait ’til the night is over.”)
Kay hirap nang buhay
(Life is a struggle)
Tila pagpapagal na walang katapusan
(and it just keeps on going on)
Hirap man ating kamtan
(Life is what we make it)
Kahit ano pa man ang dumatal
(if hardships come let us face it)
Harapin mo, huwag susuko.
(and not give up, let’s not give up.)
If I can wait to see what I want to be
If I could be what I’ve waited to see
If I can look through the face of sorrow
And for each tomorrow
I’d face my fears to move on with life.
Moving on, moving on
Life is a struggle, it’s not easy moving on.
Hirap ma’y laging kamtan sa ating paglalakbay
Sa araw at gabi may Diyos na patnubay!
An all original by Kitt Macayayong Molina
© 2007 Kitt Macayayong-Molina. All Rights Reserved.
Someone wrote why I am still in grief. In other words, I should be over by now. It’s now five months since mama passed away. So, I should be done with grief? But many people find that grieving over the death of a parent takes longer than expected. Grief Counselors say grief should not be hurried. It takes time to grieve the loss of a loved one. It is to let grief work on us and not rushing to get over it. Grieving over my Mama’s death was quite complicated because she died “a series of small deaths” from the time she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am still missing mama.. watching her last videos, my last moment with her make me cry. I am angry at the awfulness of Alzheimer’s disease, at how much of Mama’s memories were taken away. ( Interestingly, I can both grieve and be happy, or funny and angry. Strange, how two emotions can be both in one moment.) And the grace of enjoying taking care of Mama, and a sacred moment of her touching my face… kissing me and saying, “Thank you.” or “I love you, of course.” And knowing it will never happen again. They’re all part of the tension I must struggle to live with presently or for now. I use photos (or write songs) as my sanctuary or “the womb in which I am cradled in my grief.” I shall deal with grief the way it wants to. I know this too shall pass.
A Poem on Alzheimer
Do not ask me to remember.
Don’t try to make me understand.
Let me rest and know you’re with me.
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.
I’m confused beyond your concept. I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you to be with me at all cost.
Do not lose your patience with me.
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different ‘though I try.
Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone.
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’till my life is done.
Straight from the Heart
By Kitt M.
In my journal of March 2000, I wrote about how anxious I felt when my doctor told me I had to undergo angiography. I was being worked up prior to a planned myomectomy. A Thallium Stress Test was administered (The first time I went through this procedure was December 1996 when I felt a constricting pain in the chest). Result of my test showed an obvious segment depression on my left and right coronary artery of my heart. What I must do next, he advised, was to undergo an angiogram. Hopefully, he furthered, the result would not lead to a bypass surgery. My mind shrieked. Bypass Surgery! No, Lord! The thought kept reeling in my mind that I did not hear much of what my doctor was saying. All I remembered was a white note in my hand with his prescription in it and the words: ADMIT FOR CORONARY ANGIOGRAM. I felt my heart sank. I told my husband that we would get a second opinion. The cardiologists I consulted told me that my heart findings were significant. They both agreed that I do an angiogram. I’ve read about the risks of this diagnostic procedure. I felt so afraid. Oh, Jesus!
I wrote how arriving home I burst into tears and how I told my husband why God would allow me to go through another trying experience again. I felt everything within and around me seem to conspire against me including God. It just didn’t seem fair. I faithfully serve God in the ministry of counseling broken and hurting women (and some men, too). But He seemed to leave me to stagger and bleed from one physical suffering to another. If He is a loving God, surely He would want me well. Oh, God, my God, why are you so far from the words of my groaning? I felt I did not deserve this. A friend once said that people are sick because of sin. I cringed at the thought that I have a heart disease because I have not trusted God enough? I felt I bear some blame for my pain! But I’ve seen devout, loving Christians who lived kind and honest lives, and who had tremendous faith in Christ but who died with physical sufferings that did not close. So, they were not healed because they did not have enough faith? While it is always good to search our hearts to see if there is any sin our lives, the Bible tells us that sin is not always the reason why people are sick. We can’t always know the reason why we are suffering. While we feel God seems to leave us in the dark, there is always a purpose (John 9:2, 3). Oh, but my mind was bothered with so many things. What if the blockages are extensive enough for a bypass? I’ve read what the operation is like. What If I am a candidate? Perhaps a friend was right when she told me that my work or ministry may be a detriment to my health. I was almost tempted to believe that until I read Brennan Manning’s book, “The Signature of Jesus.” His books were part of my soul’s journey to the many sorrows of life. He set my heart afire with the truth about God’s radical grace. He invited me to risk living life as Jesus lived. Citing Manning, I told a friend that “God does not always choose the holy and devout or even the emotionally well-balanced.” He noted a powerful 19th century missionary, the venerable Liebermann, who was a manic depressive. He could not walk across a bridge without a compulsive desire to jump off. And yes, what about St. Paul? Undoubtedly, he was the greatest missionary and theologian of the New Testament Church whose activities are chronicled at the Book of Acts. He had a “thorn in the flesh” which was probably some kind of physical affliction. Thrice he earnestly asked the Lord to take it away from him. But the Lord did not remove it. Instead it helped Paul see through his “thorn” so he would experience God’s grace (2 Cor. 12:7-10). God’s power is made perfect in weaknesses!
“Many fail to receive the blessings that come from ministering to others because of the belief that God uses only the perfect or the near perfect… In my life as well as in Scripture, I have seen nothing but the opposite to be true. God often uses those who have major flaws or who have been through a great deal of pain to accomplish many vital tasks for his kingdom… No one is too messed up for God to use.” – Brennan Manning
Result of my coronary angiography showed “Insignificant Coronary Disease.” Recommendation: Primary Prevention. My doctor confirmed I have mild Ischemia (he first diagnosed December 1996) and placed me under the same medication. Bypass surgery was ruled out. I prayed to God that I would not be sent to surgery. I believe He granted my heart’s desire not because I have more faith or I am more prayerful than others. His intervention is never dependent on anyone else’s control. Why would God’s healing come to some but not to others? I don’t know. We don’t know. Charles R. Ringma was right when he wrote in “Life in Full Stride” that “The search for healing can be embarked upon but healing can never be demanded nor made certain. It can only be a cry of faith in the face of mystery.”
The following morning, I spent time alone in my room. I wept, enjoyed the indwelling of our loving, merciful God in my heart. His love and goodness are beyond words.
Silence is not simply the absence of noise or shutdown of communication with the outside world but rather a process of coming to stillness. I am not speaking of physical isolation; solitude here means being alone with the ALONE, experiencing the transcendent Other and growing in awareness of one’s identity as the beloved. It is impossible to know another person intimately without spending time together. Silence makes this solitude a reality. It has been said, “Silence is solitude practiced in action.”
It is much like the story of the harried executive who went to the desert father and complained about his frustration in prayer, his flawed virtue, and his failed relationships. The hermit listened closely to his visitor’s rehearsal of the struggle and disappointments in trying to lead a Christian life. He then went into the dark recesses of his cave and came out with a basin and a pitcher of water. “Now watch the water as I pour it into the basin,” he said. The water splashed on the bottom and against the side of the container. It was agitated and turbulent. At first the stirred-up water swirled around the inside, then it gradually began to settle, until finally the small fast ripples evolved into larger circles that oscillated back and forth. Eventually, the surface became so smooth that the visitor could see his face reflected in the placid water. “That is the way it is when you live constantly in the midst of others,” said the hermit. “You do not see yourself as you really are because of all the confusion and disturbance. You fail to recognize the divine presence in your life and the consciousness of your belovedness slowly fades.”
It takes time for the water to settle. “Coming to interior stillness” requires waiting. Any attempt to hasten the process only stirs up the water anew.
by Brennan Manning, from his book, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging
Teaching sensitivity to other’s feelings is Empathy…
Photo by Kitt M.