Yesterday I spent the afternoon back in the academic halls of Emmanuel College. I love that school. It is seminary for the United Church of Canada and where I took the masters degree that I now hold. I was there because I am feeling a desire to further my studies since finding the work of Dr. Christina Puchalski . I have been engaged with the personal support worker program since January 2015 only to be one of the unfortunate people cast out on the sidewalk with the closing of Everest College and now wait to see what is next for me with this program. While I wait I work as a casual employee of a nursing company going in and doing light housekeeping for infirm and shut-in adults. I am learning so much about our Canadian system of caring for people.
Most recently there was an article in the UC Observer focusing on Spiritual but Secular talking about the need of people to find meaning in their lives. This article partners, for me, with the need to bridge gaps in our human development. I am seeking desire and find little burning desire in my gut these days because, at times, I feel defeated as to where I should be in life. Traditionally, at my age many are thinking of retiring or at least looking to cash in their investments and traveling. But in this new environment of more people reaching 100 and 50 becoming the new 40 I find myself hungry to further discover what work needs to be done. It is when I focus on this study, grief, loss, finding meaning that the inferno in my belly fires up once again.
Finding meaning is not a destination it is a journey. Meaning is experienced and developed over time. Dr. Puchalski's book A Time for Listening and Caring she points out right in the forward how "real care doesn't begin with costly procedures but with simple gifts of affection. As living beings, we all wish for happiness and seek to avoid suffering." By looking at this statement the work I do begins with the activities of daily living, simply trying to put one foot in front of the other.
Working with the oldest-olds I hear such wonderful stories. Most recently I was providing respite care in home. I was working around the kitchen and she asked me to water the shamrock! I was commenting how it is a beautiful plant and she told me it belonged to her grandmother! Further she told me her grandmother died at 103 in 1974! I said to her, "if this plant could tell its story". She further went on to tell me about a table that is in the house that was the local tavern table where the men would gather to play cards or checkers and have a pint and again I think about the tales it could tell.
The butterfly on the wire speaks to me about the way life cycles. This beautiful plant adorned with a butterfly is witness that life never ends, but simply continues to ebb and flow. Through life and death the spirit of all things moves in and out of the energy fields around us. Finding meaning is finding a way to interact with this energy and faithfully wonder if all those we have loved in our past and future are very real in the spirit world. Is that the new normal? Is that spiritual in a secular environment? I don't know. I know what I believe and how I get through my own days and it gives me hope and meaning to feel my mom and my dad and my brother and others who have died and are no longer present in this human existence. I like to believe that there is a world of spiritual existence beyond what my consciousness can comprehend and a place where I will better connect when I shed the human vessel. I have faith in the spirit and live in the secular. A place of limbo wondering what is next. Will the shamrock continue to bloom? Can I help others find their own spiritual home? Is the path to meaning paved with human partnerships as I find simple affection? Wholeness is holy and is more significant when realizing it is not the cure of physical illness but the understanding of the human spirit.