On the second day of our retirement ride, Rich and I had a very unique experience. We were some where in Tennessee having left Marietta, GA on the Tuesday morning and we were headed toward Paducah, KY. Our norm each day was to ride for about one hundred and twenty miles, then take a rest stop and gas up if necessary. On that Tuesday morning we had taken a break at a rest stop somewhere in Tennessee. I had headed into the building to use the facilities while Rich took a stretch.
I was inside for a while because a bus had made a pit stop just minutes before we had arrived and there was quite a line for the ladies room. When I came out Rich was standing beside the bike deep in conversation with an older gentleman. I hung back a little giving them room for their discussion. Then Rich looked around and saw me there, motioned me forward and introduced me. I very much regret that I do not remember the gentleman’s name, but I can tell you some things about him.
I learned he was a retired Navy man, a Veteran from World War II. He, too, had owned a bike back in the day and had met and married his wife shortly after joining the service. He said that they really enjoyed riding together back then. His wife came out of the building at this point and joined us and we learned that they were from Knoxville, TN. They were very committed to their church back in Knoxville and they told us they were in fact on a day trip with fellow church-goers. We asked where they were going and the gentleman, with a chuckle, said that they didn’t know. They were on a “mystery trip” and had no idea what their destination was!
At this point, reaching out his hand, Rich thanked him for his service to country and said we needed to get going as we had quite a few miles to cover that day. The gentleman grasped Rich’s hand and thanked him in return for his service to country too. Then, to our great surprise, he extended his left hand toward my right hand and asked permission to pray over us. With joy in my heart I reached out to take his hand and he connected with his wife on his other side, and she in turn clasped hands with Rich.
And right there, the middle of a rest stop parking lot somewhere in Tennessee we were blessed to receive prayers of gratitude and prayers for protection from two strangers. He asked the good Lord, our Father, to watch over us, to keep us safe from all harm. He asked for blessings upon us as we continued our trip and prayed that we would have a wonderful and enjoyable ride. With full hearts we said our goodbyes, mounted the bike, and rode off leaving our parking lot friends to enjoy their mystery tour.
Although I do not remember their names, I can picture them in my minds eye. I can see the four of us standing beside the bike, the big tour bus in the background, holding hands and praying together. It was beautiful and was most definitely a highlight of the ride for me. That memory will be with me in years to come, and I hope that Rich and I will be able to do the same for someone else one day as we ride our Harley around God’s creation.
I’ve just checked through my archives and cannot believe I didn’t write a piece on the Lenten Mission from 2010. In my blog, Spiritual Growth- The God Path June 15, 2011, I told the story of my first experience of Fr. Jim Curtin. Although I tried to get him to come and give a Lenten Mission at our church in the period of Lent 2009, we already had someone booked for that year, so I had to be patient and wait to invite him the following year. He finally came to our church during Lent of 2010 and gave a Healing Prayer Mission which truly rocked our parish. Out of that experience a fledgling Healing Prayer Ministry was established and I guess God realized that we needed a little more help along the path and by some miraculous divine intervention, Fr. Jim was invited once more to present a second Healing Prayer Mission in Lent of this year.
This time around, the Mission was probably even more powerful than the previous year. Fr. Jim brought four of his parishioners with him, two men and two women, all Healing Prayer Ministers. Much of the content was similar to the previous year and yet, somehow, it all seemed new. The first evening was focused on physical healing and Fr. Jim reminded us that Jesus himself invites us to continue his work on earth – and some. “Those who follow Me will do not only the works I do but greater works.” (John 14:12-14). He also pointed out that Jesus’ work was about touching and praying over and healing the sick and even raising the dead.
His subsequent exhortations to his apostles and disciples, his mandate to them if you will, was to do the same and more. In fact the work of the early church was just that: telling the story of Jesus, healing the sick, raising the dead, and forgiving people’s sins – also mandated by Jesus. Somehow, over the centuries the church has moved away from this simple mandate of Jesus. Man-made rules and regulations were established and the church became very “powerful” and political. It is only in recent times, partly because of the changes brought about by Vatican II in the 60’s and partly because of the upsurge of the charismatic movement, that there has been a desire to return to “doing the work of Jesus”.
The second evening of the Mission focused on the the Holy Spirit and how important it was to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. On the third and final evening we heard about healing on the spiritual level. After the presentation each evening, prayer teams would be stationed in the area surrounding the altar and parishioners were invited to come up and ask for healing. It was truly a remarkable experience to watch people go up, be prayed over, and then be “struck” by the Holy Spirit. Many people were so overcome by the Spirit that they “went down” to the floor and lay “resting in the Spirit” for some time.
The fact that people came back to each evening of the Mission was testament itself to their hunger for an experience of the Spirit as well as an indication of the success of the Mission. People from many other churches attended this Mission because they had heard through friends what an impact it had made on their lives the previous year. The church was full all three evenings. My husband had an extremely powerful experience as he requested Baptism in the Holy Spirit. I cannot reveal the details here because that is his story to tell. Suffice to say that it changed him dramatically.
A friend, who I felt inspired to invite to the third night of the Mission, had her own very powerful and personal experience. She was not of our denomination and I remember her saying that never would she have imagined having anything like that experience in a Catholic church. She likened it more to a “revival” than a “mission”. But whatever label she gave it, her experience led her to make a personal decision that she had been hovering over for some time. She has since set up in her own business – a life-long dream.
Since the Mission, Richard and I have felt compelled to become part of the Healing Prayer Ministry. It is growing and blossoming into a fruitful work of the Lord, and we feel blessed and privileged to be a part of this group and to offer this service to our fellow parishioners. As I look back to that conference in 2008 and the growth which has come from that, I am so grateful that I remain ever open to the beckoning of the Spirit.
It seems very fitting to be coming back/starting back into my writing on the first day of the first month of the New Year. Yes, it really has been since 1 December 2010 that I last wrote. I really wanted to write yesterday. It was warm enough in the lanai, after a bit of a lie-in, to do my quiet time outside for the first time in a month. Florida, the “Sunshine State”, has been rather stubborn in following last winter’s cold trend. Actually the whole country has been ridiculously frigid for the month of December, with crazy storms and blizzards throwing themselves all over the States.
But, joy of joy, when I came outside at about 9am yesterday the temperature was already at almost 60F degrees. So I put on my new purple, fleecy house- jacket that “Santa Richard” brought me and enjoyed my first quiet time in the lanai for a month. The air was tepid, but warmed up by the minute and I was pulled in so many different directions all at once.
I wanted to just sit and savor the glory of the Lord, breathe in His precious air and all the various perfumes of the outside. I wanted to do my meditational readings and engage in my intimate time with God. I also wanted to write and get out the words that had been hiding in my heart and mind over the past few weeks. And I also wanted to let the world know why I had not written during this period – or at least give them my version, which may or may not be the “reason” but perhaps an “excuse”. Who knows what goes on at subliminal levels in my brain!
I did do my readings and spent some quiet time with God. I did enjoy just sitting there and breathing and watching the myriad tiny birds fluttering round the feeders and hopping through the grass below. I even saw a couple of butterflies and I surely heard at least two, although I think there were more, hawks screeching loudly as they swooped back and forth through the pine wood out back. A blue jay was also jump-dropping from branch to branch in one of the pine trees (I’m not sure how else to describe the strange way Blue Jays have of starting on an upper branch and then dropping-jumping-flying-flopping down from one level to another until they drop out of sight behind the fence line).
I did not get my lap-top out to the lanai however, because Richard and I had a planned date/appointment to go and have brunch together and then do some post-Christmas bargain shopping. Part of me was a little irritated because this was the first time I had felt driven to write in so long. But I enjoy my dates with Richard when we can manage them so the irritation was minimal and quickly disappeared as we enjoyed some time together, and we did find some good bargains. What was even better was that it wasn’t just “acquiring more stuff”. We found some things that we needed or had been looking for and we saved some big bucks.
So, why haven’t I been writing? It’s rather a mish-mash of things, so here goes. The day after Thanksgiving, while we were still enjoying our week in Orlando, Rich and I went bowling at the Boardwalk near Sanford. At some point I was getting ready to unleash a strike (I like to think it would have been a strike!!). I made my run up to the line, planted my left foot to bowl and as I did that something just “torqued” in my upper outer left thigh. I dropped the ball as I gasped in pain then, in a moment, it suddenly didn’t seem so bad. However, it was. A few steps later a flash pain ran up my thigh. And so it went on and off over the next day as we prepared to return home. Thank God for Tylenol Extra Strength!!
When we got home I was able to treat it with different things that I had on hand. I also had a massage booked with Michael and he worked his usual skillful magic and, fortunately, within eight to ten days it was healed. Unfortunately, about 6 days later I noticed my right knee was sore and within 24 hours I was limping quite badly. I did all the things I had done with my thigh two weeks earlier hoping for the same results. Alas, a week later the situation had not improved so I went to the doctor. Happily, after testing it in every direction, he informed me that “the knee was not compromised” and sprained right tendons were diagnosed and I was sent home to “rice” (rest, ice, compress, and elevate) and given an anti-inflammatory to take for 3 weeks.
Now we’re talking about the two weeks leading up to Christmas here. With all there was to prepare for (I had seven people coming on Christmas Day) I was supposed to “rest and elevate”? Well, the anti-inflammatory partly took care of that because it rendered me pretty useless within half an hour of taking the dose (thank God I was taking it in the evening), and although I was not left with “hangover” symptoms the following morning, after a few days I noticed that the overall effect was one of “sludge-in-my-veins”. Add to this the fact that our normally mild Florida temperatures were dipping dangerously close to freezing several nights in a row and not getting much higher in the day time, and I was ready for total hibernation!!
The whole pace of my life slowed to a snail’s pace. What does this have to do with not writing, you may ask? Well, what little useful time I had available (read – time that I was really awake and one hundred percent brain alive!) needed to be dedicated to the things that were necessary to be done to get through each day and handle the plans that were in place. The freezing cold saps me of all energy and desire to do just about anything other than curl up on the couch and stay warm, plus it tends to numb any inspiration and seems to send the Muse running to warmer climates. Every once in a while a small creative idea would do its utmost to bubble to the surface and I would even find myself thinking that my lap-top must be feeling totally abandoned. But the anti-inflammatory and the couch won that battle every time
My knee is still bothering me. In fact I went back to the doctor last Monday and I have an order to get a CAT scan this coming week and I’m also waiting for a call from the physiotherapist. Because I have a little arthritis in some of my fingers and the physical feeling in my knee joint is similar to that in my finger joints, I personally think arthritis is the culprit and not sprained tendons. But we’ll see.
In the meantime, Mother Nature has decided to be kind to me and has served up some warmer temperatures. Today is as warm as yesterday. It is 3pm and I’m sitting in my lanai dressed in jeans and a tank top and I’m aware that my whole inside – heart, body, soul, and mind – is revved up on a different level. I feel lighter and happier than I have in the last month. Muse has been tapping on my door since yesterday and today my schedule is such that I can let her out to play.