Days and nights pumped on as I gave every ounce of my spirit to care for my dying mother -- not knowing she was dying, yet inwardly knowing it all the same. Where was the Holy One in that scratching, biting, suffering? For fifteen minutes each day I left her and went to stare at the nearby mountains and lake. In the solitude and silent grandeur, I sat with the Holy Presence that was larger than suffering. I felt the soft embrace of heaven giving me courage, hope, and fortitude for the journey. Being alone with God in a place of beauty larger than my struggles revived my weary, doubting soul.
Renee Miller is an Episcopal priest, author, and entrepreneur. She blogs at Explore Faith.
When my son was diagnosed with a rare cancer, I was devastated. It wasn't a crisis of faith, since the God I affirm does not cause cancer or catastrophe. It was a crisis of life. I needed to be strong as "pater familias" (my son's description of me). Each morning, I walked, at first singing "Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy." As he improved, I sang the hymn "Great is Thy Faithfulness." I spent time meditating, praying for guidance and grace, and giving him (and myself) hours of reiki. This month our first grandchild will be born! Praise God!
Bruce Epperly is Professor of Practical Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary and co-pastor of Disciples United Community Church in Lancaster, PA. He blogs at Faith Forward at Patheos.
In times of personal crisis, I call, email, or arrange to gather with some of my oldest buddies. There is a group of us who have been friends since junior high, women who recall why I got grounded, or with whom I went to Homecoming, or the sheer volume of my ‘80s permed hair. The beauty of these old friends is that these women have known me over time, have seen me through losses of one kind or another. They remember my life lessons along with me, they stood with me through them. So, in times of personal crisis, we try and gather, we go and buy make-up or perfume together, then go out to eat and talk for hours.
The Rev. Susan Baller-Shepard is a writer, editor-in-chief at www.spiritualbookclub.com with its blog www.spiritualbookclubblog.blogspot.com, and a parish associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, Normal, IL.