January 21, 2005

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Coping with concerns via support and prayer

Last week, I shared the medical-surgical challenges that my husband survived after nearly a half year of serious heart and cancer concerns. I discussed the fragility of life and the need to focus on what’s important, which is to conduct our lives in a way that directly mirrors our Lord in everything we think, do or say.I also mentioned a holiday message that Paul and I sent to relatives and friends that emphasized our “thanks” to God for blessings. One Catholic friend, Helen Burke, and her husband got several messages similar to ours. Helen responded with the following thoughts, to which Paul and I completely relate:

“This really made me realize I don’t keep in touch as well as I should and that no news is not necessarily good news. … I was struck with the value of faith in confronting the situations [of friends] and how grateful they are for God’s presence in their lives. My friends are wonderful people. God has blessed me, too! What do people with no faith support do with life’s challenges? I cannot even imagine!”

During 2004’s challenges, an outpouring of prayers came our way, reminding us that our Creator is in charge. In other words, we “let go and let God”—and trusted the doctors and other medical professionals. I, personally, experienced many special moments during those months. One significant example was how I was blessed while spending time in the chapel at The Heart Center of Indiana.

Being there soothed my spirit and reminded me that people of many faiths also find comfort in God there and elsewhere. Eight religious symbols are etched in the blue glass: the Christian cross, Jewish Star of David, Islamic moon and star, the Hindu OM, Buddhist prayer wheel, Taoist yin-yang, Zoroastrian flame and Shinto torii gate.

More important, the chaplain, Rev. Mark Deckinga of the Christian Reformed Church of North America (Dutch Reformed) offered positive, prayerful, courteous counsel from the very first day. We were also grateful when our pastor, Father Tony Volz, visited with concern, conversation and, most of all, the Holy Eucharist. Such spiritual help during traumatic times reminds us that suffering is temporary and that, ultimately, God is always present during the major and minor moments in our lives.

None of us escapes difficulties, but each of us can find support by being open to the advice, comfort and prayers of others. Despite differences in religions—and even differences in how we, as individual Catholics, practice our faith—we are all one in the Spirit, one in the Divine. We have a truly awesome spiritual support system “out there” if we are open to it.

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)


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