Easter Greetings

Good Morning and a Blessed Easter Sunday.

It goes without saying that today doesn’t quite look like what we had pictured our Easter looking like a few months ago.

We cannot help but have heavy hearts when we soak in the current situation, personally, nationally, and globally … we are human after all and the majority of us are raw with emotions.

We find ourselves fearful, anxiety filled, some of us are experiencing depression, some are questioning where God is in all of this.

On this Easter Sunday, I’d like to share with you my Alex’s story, my family’s story - I believe our experience has some correlation to today's present events.

In the spring of 2017 my Son, Alexander, was struck with a life-threatening illness of unknown origin.  I had put a healthy 12-year-old child to bed on May 17 only to have him not wake up on May 18.

Alexander began to have uncontrollable seizures and needed to be placed in a medically induced coma in order to allow his brain to rest and heal.

For 40 days I sat by my child, with a ventilator breathing for him, and waited for a sign, any sign, that my Alex was still in there – somewhere.

Three times the doctors came to me and told me my Son was going to die … from what they couldn’t say … over 1000 medical tests were done and no answers were to be had.

At first I was in shock, “HOW could this be happening?”  then I was angry, “WHY was this happening?”  and although I was already an associate Minister at that time – I lashed out at God – I declared – quite loudly “God has left the building”

And, indeed, it felt like that.

My world had come to a complete stop … I no longer was concerned about anything except the health and well being of my Alexander, my younger Son, Daniel, my Husband … my family.

The first time I left my Son’s side to return home and get a change of clothes I remember looking around and thinking none of this, the house, the items in the house, the things that I thought were so very important … mean anything to me.

Looking back, I am still amazed at how quickly my world changed.

Sitting next to my Son in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit my days began to feel like I was stuck in a ‘loop’ … sitting, watching, waiting, praying …

Somewhere along the way, after the shock, after the anger, was surrender. 

I surrendered to the fact that I could not help my child … and oh my God was that hard to admit … I could NOT help my child.

Through surrender I relinquished the illusion of control.  For I truly, truly, did not have any control over anything … except my reaction to what was happening …

In relinquishing control and choosing my thoughts, my reactions …  I found healing …

Alexander was in a coma for 40 days.  He was eventually diagnosed with a condition that had been diagnosed in only 250 other children in the world.  The mortality rate is almost certain with this condition – only 10 out of the known 250 children have lived – only 5 out of those 10 live without severe mental or physical handicaps, Alex is one of those five – only 1 lives without daily seizures – that is my Alexander – a miracle.

Alexander came back to us – different.  His memories of the first 12 years of his life are all but gone.  Oh, he remembers who he is, who we are, how to read, how to write … but he doesn’t remember when his Dad and I took him to Florida (the trip we saved and worked so hard to take him on) He doesn’t remember the annual Easter Egg hunts at my parents place, He doesn’t remember his 6th grade best friend, his memories are few and far between.

When I ask Alex if this bothers him, the not remembering, his response is no, I got a reset.

Wise words … our entire family got a reset.

Right now our entire world is being reset …

What I learned somewhere in the mist of Alex’s 40 day coma and subsequent recovery is that the only thing I had control over were my reactions.  I needed to make a choice to surrender to what was going on … I relinquished control, I humbled myself  - I did not have all the answers – what I DID have was this …

The ability to be grateful for the fabulous team of physicians and nurses that were taking care of my child.  The small milestones that showed me my Alex was still ‘in there’ somewhere.  He woke up!!  He remembered me and his Dad (they didn’t think he would), he could talk, his sarcasm came back – in spades I must confess – the little things – they were what not only kept me going but changed the ‘energy’ I was emitted from fearful to hopeful.

Our lives, however we have assembled them – whether we work full time, part time, from home or not at all and all the activities that we do to fill our time – these things are all fragile. 

As we all have learned these last few weeks – there are essential jobs – and not essential jobs.  Our jobs sustain us, yes? Mortgages, Rent, Car Notes, Bills – we need money to live but we shouldn’t live to make money. 

I had a small business when my Alex took ill – everything came to an abrupt halt – what was so very important to me changed.

Instantly my priorities were upended.

All those activities that I placed value on – the ones that took me away from my family and friends – all of a sudden, I had no choice but to do without them - 

What has happened to our world these last few weeks – is very similar to what happened to my Alex, to me, to my family.

A giant reset, a pause in order to get our priorities straight.

We have very little control of what is happening around us.

Before words like pandemic, quarantine and social distancing became part of our vernacular we had a false belief that we have 1000 more days to spend with those we love.

We don’t.  We never did.  It was incorrect thinking – there is no guarantee that we will, “Get to it tomorrow”… because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

And where was God throughout Alex’s ordeal, my ordeal, my family’s ordeal?

When my Alex was ill – God hadn’t left the building – It was me – I lost sight of him. 

Where is God now when the world is in crisis?

God is here – it is our collective fear that has placed a shadow over our connection to him.

It is easy to lose the sense of God’s presence when we are in crisis.

When we lose sight of God’s presence, it is up to us to choose to remember where to look.  We find God in the people that parent us, mentor us, challenge us and love us …

Within each of us resides a spark of the Divine … although as humans we are imperfect our imperfection never diminishes that Divine Spark – never diminishes God’s love for us.

For me, throughout our family’s ordeal, God was present in the people that prayed for Alex’s healing, that came to sit with me, that offered a helping hand to my family. 

I chose to place my fear and anxiety on a shelf and remain in a heart-centered place of loving kindness.

I choose to do that now, during this global crisis.

Look for the good…always, always there is something to be grateful for.

In two of the Gospels there are passages that share the experience of Jesus, Jesus who had a profound connection with God, as he was faltering on the cross – he received comfort and reassurance of God’s love from the people who risked their own lives to be with him to the end.

When Alex woke up from his coma, he shared that he saw and spoke with God.  When I jokingly said to him, next time you want to see God – I will take you to Church – Alex responded – God is not there – he is outside, in the trees.

It is vitally important that during our current crisis we remember  - We do not need a brick and mortar building to speak to God – whatever your understanding is of your Creator – we need only to humble ourselves and pray – whatever prayer looks like to you – because there is no ‘right’ way.

When we choose to worship – it should not be out of obligation – but because we enjoy the sense of community from those that are gathered with us.

And won't it be marvelous when we can gather and praise our Creator together? 

Won't we appreciate a child’s school play, a nephews t-ball game, a niece’s art show?

Won't we appreciate a confident handshake, a warm embrace..

Never again will I take those simple things for granted.

Our world will indeed look, feel, be different when we emerge from this global crisis.  Different can be frightening, challenging, and fill us with anxiety … but, just as my Alex return to us different – we can adapt to different … and the way we do that is to allow that Divine Spark to illuminate within us to shower those around us with love.

I choose to remain heart centered in loving kindness… you can make that choice as well.

May blessings of health, happiness, peace, prosperity and abundance be upon you and yours.

Much Love and Gratitude –

Natalie