Mountains to Climb

 

Mountains to Climb

When I talk about healthcare, I think of individual care and holistic care, where God is the Great Physician and Chief of Staff. But where can one find this level of care?

Individual care and holistic care are at the heart of family, friendships and community. Individual care and holistic care are what I experienced from the staff at Living Springs Retreat, AL.

I rocked on the verandah in the FRESH AIR. I sipped on WATER through my stainless steel water bottle. I sat in the SUN 15 minutes each day on the back patio. I RESTed 8 hours each night under open windows.

EXERCISE has never been more exciting, guided by the dynamic twins, Lauren and Erin. Fifteen minutes a day on the rebounder is doable.

The cooking classes, the menus, the recipes, the shopping list, the juice fasts and the twice a day vegan meals, part of a wholesome, delicious DIET, have called me to a higher work in the kitchen.

It was nice to break bread together. Barbara O’Neill loaded my plate with generous amounts of seeds, nuts, grains, legumes and vegetables and sat beside me at every meal. It warmed my heart.

Stacy Sweeney | Barbara O’Neill

The physiology lectures given by Barbara for two hours each day motivated and equipped me with opportunities to choose and improve my level of well-being.

Each afternoon, I sat in the steam sauna @ 100°F for 30 minutes, followed by a cold shower for 10 minutes and complete bedrest for 30 minutes. I disliked the steam sauna because my heat intolerance incapacitates me until my internal temperature returns to 98.6. I decided that it would be childish to refuse this treatment, especially in the hands of qualified therapists.

With Monday and Wednesday came a one hour body rub followed by the sodium bicarb body wrap treatments (Cancer is a Fungus, by Dr. T. Simoncini and The Germ that Causes Cancer by Doug Kaufman.) The massage table was prepared with a wool blanket, a plastic tarp and a second wool blanket. Barbara wrapped my chest in a hot towel soaked in sodium bicarbonate and boiling water, and repeated the process to each leg and arm. She covered each wrapped body part in black plastic bags and then my entire body in a wool blanket. I was immobile. For an hour. I was buried in hot, quicksand and I had fears to deal with, STAT.

To calm myself, I imagined I was, The Little Fruit Seller, by John Singer Sargent. I forged a new brain pathway called, in his arms I safely rest. Barbara recited Psalm 91 to me, among many other scriptures throughout the week. She said she had been memorizing scripture for 30 years.

Sargent | The Little Fruit Seller

All through the week I repeated the words, “O, taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that TRUST  in him” Psalms 34:8. Memorizing scripture stimulates neurogenesis, so I’ve been told.

I tasted the 8 health laws from the Bible and they have been easy to practice. God is good.

I’m taking the knowledge I gained and the book, Self Heal by Design, by Barbara O’Neill, back home with me to my family, my friends and my community, because it’s not mine to keep.

My time here has been healing and rewarding.

§tacy §weeney, RN

On the Verandah

Sargent | On the Verandah | Watercolor

On the Verandah

Dear Friend,

It’s not difficult to perceive that I’m out of tune. Sickness is let loose and I can’t take care of this. I’ve had an interest to attend a health retreat, but for whatever reason, I have neglected to register.

It’s neurotic behavior. The cue here is having a body. I am a trained scientist but I can’t figure this thing out. Between my self awareness and self appraisal and not being afraid to discover what is yet to be done or known, my health feels harder than ever to bear. I take no pleasure in how torn I feel between the professionals being professionals and my intuition of a universal human problem.

With my mind’s ear, I listened to Barbara O’Neill, the eloquent, medical missionary, during our live stream church service this past Sabbath. I anticipated a marvelous health message. No man, teacher or doctor ever spoke the way she spoke. She intrigued me. My heart burned within me. The impulse was strong to follow her, all the way to Australia, if only she made the call.

What I heard was, “This is for you.” and “This is the way, walk ye in it.” Living a Christian life is being conflicted between my pride and a God who wants to rule.

You give good gifts. Thank you for making my upcoming treatment and consultation with Barbara light and easy. May she straighten out the pieces. I’m ready for a tremendous experience.

§tacy §weeney

As Far as the East is from the West

Whistler | London Bridge

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
— Psalms 103:11-12

AS FAR AS THE EAST IS
FROM THE WEST

Because of him
accepted we are
to live with him
in the far, far

as far as the east — is from the west
he has bridged — our separation
as far as the east — is from the west
he has a breath — he wants to give us

if I have all of the rest
still my dust is nothing
cast into the depths
if I lack this well of love

as far as the east — is from the west
he has bridged — our separation
as far as the east — is from the west
in his hand — he holds our breath

he takes the just for the unjust distance
exceeds all that I can get
the abyss is now an entrance
the already and not yet

as far as the east — is from the west
he has bridged — our separation
as far as the east — is from the west
his breath waits — at the threshold

all the world should shake, shake, shake
the keep out signs are taken.

§tacy §weeney

Let Me Not Lose Sight of Jesus

Bougereau | Psyche | 1892
Have you ever seen the color purple painted so beautiful!

LET ME NOT LOSE SIGHT OF JESUS

Do you know him, does he know you
does he see himself in my heart
search me through and through
look in all the corners of my heart

is there anyone in the universe
with so many good points
so peculiar and unique
hang his portrait in every boy

I’m doing my best
for him, I’ll leave the rest
like a blind man
that mighty hand I hold

a center my life finds
focused on his face
sitting at his feet
is the highest place

involved in all my dirt
more than eager to use
his best to reach my worst
let me not lose sight of Jesus

I’m doing my best
for him, I’ll leave the rest
like a blind man
that mighty hand I hold

the highest place is gone
take the lead and lead me on

~ §tacy §weeney

Wise Men in Training

Whistler | Nocturne:Blue and Gold, St Mark’s, Venice

wise men in training

WELCOME

Daniel is not just a children’s story. The book of Daniel is a complex text worth pursuing. At first glance, the book of Daniel begins with a somber view of defeat and sorrow. The young Hebrews were exiled to Babylon as a nation, Israel, and face the pressures of a foreign land, a foreign culture and a foreign religion where I see God moving people in a direction for the Messiah to come.

Parker Palmer echoes Daniel’s experience this way: “Split off from each other, neither darkness nor light is fit for human habitation,” he writes. “The moment we say ‘yes’ to both of them and join their paradoxical dance, the two conspire to make us healthy and whole.” Where does Daniel draw the line and can he survive and succeed in the School of Trials?

STORY @ Daniel 1

PAINTING
Whistler | Nocturne: ßlue and Gold, St Mark’s, Venice

Welcome to Babylon, the city of gold and architectural beauty. This painting conveys an image of unsurpassable might and glory, a shining representation of the gods they worshiped.

POEM
Wise Men in Training

When my world collapsed
I was taken captive
in the enemy empire
in the school of trials

we’re just wise men in training
we’re just wise men sustaining
we’re just wise men in training
we’re just wise men sustaining

kingdoms come
and kingdoms done
if you can’t see his hands
you can feel his love

§tacy §weeney

A Christmas Cold, Rule Out COVID

Sargent | Venetian Interior

“While this season might be more muted for many of us than ever before, it’s also more important than ever before that we allow ourselves to get quiet, fall apart, grieve as necessary, look inside, and get replenished, as that is possible…As we walk into 2021, we are still facing the reality of a great deal of rupture. Yet, this rupture is not the only reality and it is not the shape of forever.

How do we get grounded inside ourselves so that as the world opens up again, and we open up again to each other, we stay true to all we’ve been learning this year. So that we walk towards the kinship that has revealed itself even across every fracture. So that we seek and offer accompaniment towards the long but life-giving work of remaking our world around what is essential and generative and healing.”

\\ Krista Tippett (Midwinter Gathering, December, 2020)

A Christmas Cold, Rule Out COVID

It was mid winter and the respiratory floor had a cold; the cold winds were creeping underneath the doors. Coming down the hospital halls, I was pushing a cart and passing out medicine cups full of red cough syrup like it was Christmas, to patients diagnosed with the same sickness.

Almost four inches thick, my med-surg textbook oddly labeled these patients pink puffers and blue boaters, illustrated by a distinct tripod body position as they tried to catch a breath by leaning forward, their outstretched hands on their knees, a malady compounded of anxiety, discomfort, and dread.

Their designated blue and pink color had nothing to do with their gender. This was not labor and delivery, although incentive spirometers sitting on every bedside table rattled like a baby toy with every deep sigh and inspiration.

These intensive care patients were literally blue because they could not get air in, or they were literally pink because they could not get air out. Most commonly caused by years of cigarette smoking, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the United States; smokers will not be able to escape it, unless early on they kick the habit.

This is when Mrs. Green hit the nurse call light button and requested something to ease her communion with pain. I rushed to one side of the bed and asked, “Are you alright?” I fixed her a fabulous dose of elixir for Christmas, crippling the will of the sickly.

She closed her eyes and there were pink circles around them. I thought she was asleep, but when I spoke to her again she did not answer. She was a pink puffer on the verge of death, and 30 minutes later her breathing had dropped down to only a whisper, a dream that no longer had any existence in reality, and distant pleasant land, remote and secure, seemed more and more a safe haven. It was all strangely a part of the our existence and the most natural thing in our perishable world.

§tacy §weeney, RN

 

Manger of My Heart

Claude Monet French 1840 - 1926 Snow Effect With Setting Sun 1875 Oil on canvas

Claude Monet

“They were built out of love and pride in the earth, each with a little element of triumphal boastfulness — as if each barn was saying to all the rich neighboring countryside, ‘Look at me! What a fine splendid thing I am, built by a loving master, sheltering fat cattle and big-uddered cows and great bins of grain! Look at me! A temple raised to plenty and to the beauty of the earth! A temple of abundance and good living!'”

\\ Louis Bromfield (Pleasant Valley, pg 17-18)

“On Earth Jesus arrived in humanity
as a helpless, dependent baby
well bundled
like a present I didn’t know I wanted”
— Stacy Sweeney

MANGER of my heart

Manger of my heart
is large enough to hold you
settle here in these chambers
while I play some music

eyes gaze in adoration
in the atmosphere of angels
all want to love the newborn
and shield him from the dangers

closer than close
closer than most
closer every day
like Eskimos in the snow

from the Most High to the manger
I’m overwhelmed at the thought
sojourn among strangers
from the manger to the cross

for the seasons in between
he brings the spring to me
for the seasons in between
he brings comfort to me

— §tacy §weeney

Downbeat

Whistler | The Cobbler

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also his offspring.”
— Acts 17:28

I didn’t talk about my sickness for a long time because it’s so abstract, unclear and unpredictable — people can’t imagine it. My health is still up in the air. Sickness is the most downbeat name since downbeat, but sickness taught me something about settling. I got more of God and he got more of me.

Two things that were clear on the MRI report were that I had severe demyelinating disease in the brain and spinal cord, and I had myelopathy, which is compression of the vertebrae on the spinal cord. Over the course of a year, the compression on my cervical spine became so disabling that my life came to a gradual stop, like gravity increased a hundredfold; gravity holding me to the bed.

I woke up on the edge of myself,
faced with the fear of being limited and insignificant. The most maddening part was being trapped inside my own head, in a room with no doors or windows, and just a tiny speaker of sound driving me up the walls; the sheer volume of suffering and lamenting my descent, like John the Baptist or like Jesus.
Sickness is where I gained sight of my suffering Lord.

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.”
— Isaiah 53:4

When I woke up after surgery,
I was surprised by what I first saw. Outside my surgical suite window hung a rope straight out of heaven, straight out from this brilliant circle of light, capturing the importance of having things stay together and secure. Or did the dangling rope symbolize letting go? Both I believe. Jesus was holding me close all along, and if it was freedom from disease that I prayed for, I must give it all to God.

§tacy §weeney

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Bouguereau | Pastourelle
Shepherdess |
1889 | Oil on canvas |
159 x 93 cms | 62 1/2 x 36 1/2 ins |
The Philbrook Museum of Art | Tulsa | United States

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

I have this short story committed to memory that still makes me cringe. It displays my remarkable ability to go out of my way to embarrass myself. Coaching was nothing like what I thought it would be. This story is about baseball.

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game”

When I called the recreation department to sign my son, Keller, up for his first year of baseball, the director told me that his name would be placed on a waiting list with ten other ball players until a new coach was found. I boldly Volunteered, as all the best of Tennessee had died at the Alamo.

The baseball director’s response to me was a go-ahead. All we need is just one chance, after all, we were only five year olds that had never played baseball before. With a new head coach at the top of the roster, our misfit team was now on the upswing.

This was going to be so much fun, I thought. I bought a bucket of baseballs and a bucket of bubble gum. I even bought a whistle to wear around my neck in case of an emergency. We practiced warm up drills, offensive drills and defensive drills like it was spring training. We were sure to be № 1 with all these detailed skills. If we don’t win it’s a shame.

When it came time for our first ball game, the umpire asked me who would be pitching. Here comes fortune and fame.

“Pitching?” I asked. “I thought this was T-ball.”

“No,” the umpire said. “This is coach pitch,” as he passed me a new game ball.

Taken with surprise, like a Persian cat who fell off the front porch batting at a dangling piece of string, I took the mound, mumbling to myself whether I would pitch underhand or overhand to my own batters. I knew I would have better accuracy underhand, but with ease I determined I was outta my league.

All I had to do was throw the baseball to the catcher’s mitt, but my catcher was standing at tihe backstop against the chain-link fence, armed without proper catcher’s gear. So instead I decided to aim for the imaginary strike zone somewhere between the batter’s chest and knees. There was nothing I could do at this point except cross my fingers that nothing else unexpected would happen. But I had surprise on my side!

The bleachers were watching and waiting, silent and still, when we heard a hollow thump echo around the ballfield. The ball fell dead in the dirt like a well intended bunt.

N∅T a bunt, but the best part. No joke; Buy me some peanuts and crackerjacks! I had hit my own batter square in the chest with the baseball,.. and he was still standing in the batter’s box with his bat and elbows up, waiting on the next pitch. He didn’t even flinch! My whistle was blown for an ambulance called the come back chance. Someone should have painted pinstripes down my pants.

I maintained my game face, but inside I was horrified. I wanted to drill myself deep into the earth, but there was no place to hide in the center of the ball field except under my ball cap. I felt my entire body blush with embarrassment, but the only thing I could do was to brush it off, after all, one walk hadn’t løst the ballgame. I nodded to my batter, while I pointed to first, “Take a base, boy, someone will knock you home.”

§tacy §weeney