Our physical beings Are so fragile So vulnerable Our physical life As we have come to know it Can change instantaneously A fall A nearby sneeze Droplets landing indiscriminately An infection Mild or life changing Any number of circumstances Most beyond our control Can end or alter our physical life At any moment. Motor vehicle crash, earthquake, war Homicide, injury, abuse, illness And untold others. As people enter their later years The physical losses are more evident Our bodies less resilient But the human spirit Ahhh! The Human Spirit Inspires awe. The resolve of rescue workers In Turkey, Syria, NYC All over the world Putting their lives at risk To spare the suffering of others Human Spirit. The courage of the silver-haired man Making his way unassisted Across the vast floor of the restaurant Pushing his walker forward Dragging his thin, bowed legs One painful step after another His right ankle randomly turning under He ventures forth Smiling and nodding along the way His spirit unencumbered His Human Spirit. The hurried foot steps Racing down the hospital stairs Faces of consternation, determination, trepidation They descend flight after flight To the Emergency Department An energy fills the staircase An energy of love and compassion So powerful my heart- filled with awe overflows into my eyes As I stand back, giving them space To respond to the call “Code Blue. Pediatric. ED” Human Spirit undeterred. The family Putting their lives on hold Being there for their dad Allowing him to remain home As he nears the end of his life. Nearing the end, but living fully Others helping out Lending a hand, baking a bread Saying a prayer Day after Day after Week after Month They labor Out of duty, out of love The Human Spirit living on. The Slave Spirituals A testament beyond measure To this Spirit Not extinguished By the evils enacted Upon them by others “Swing low, sweet chariot . . .” Spirit of human beings Oppressed, enslaved in body But untethered in spirit Human Spirit. Human Spirit Surviving despite enduring Assault, loss, suffering, unimaginable pain Human Spirit Who we are Within our fragile shells Deep inside our physical selves That tiny nugget of hope The fountain of youth, of love Our truest selves When we look on in wonder Look on in awe And maybe beautiful disbelief When our hearts leap toward the warmth of the flame of the actions of others, We are witnessing the power of the Human Spirit And within that Spirit lies hope for our wounded world!
9am 9/8/2021 Dad’s living room A mere 16 months ago I thought it was 2 years! Finally, it is complete Later today, we pick up 300 copies Of my book! It is a culmination Of wisdom and knowledge gained Over 4+ decades Of service 4 decades of listening, Caring, educating, Relieving suffering, Telling truth And giving choices 4 decades of conversations Labor is over now Today is delivery day. So, I lie awake wondering Is it enough? Will people benefit from reading it? Will they hear and understand That which I passionately believe? Has it come through In the words I have written And rewritten and rewritten More times than I care to count Beta Readers A fabulous editor So much has gone into This sixteen-month gestation. Today it will be born No more revisions No more corrections So tonight, I am a bit concerned Like the Christmas Gift The really special one That you put your heart and soul into You are excited to give it But tremulous also How will it be received? ~ This book is my gift To people everywhere In hopes it will bring them Comfort, clarity, meaning and choices As they face the prospect Of Life’s Final Journey. A journey we shall all face Someday So, as I release this creation I whisper a prayer That I have done justice to the topic That I have honored the hundreds (? thousands) of patients Who have allowed me to accompany them On their journeys Today I send my words out into the world Knowing, I am merely a vessel Meant to pour out for others What has been given to me May the words be a blessing To all who receive them. Amen.
Just a quick note to share some exciting news!! For the past two years, I have been writing a book. It has arisen from my over 4 decades working as a nurse/nurse practitioner. Through writing, I am able to indulge my passion to work to empower people to make their own decisions about how they want to live the final stages of their lives! It is called Navigating Life’s Final Journey Conversations, Choices, Resources
I am picking up the books on Monday! You can learn more about the book and order on my website https://patocwriter.com/
or Facebook page Patricia O’Connor, APRN https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089218952158
I hope to put up a picture of the book itself on Monday!!!
Can COVID “ruin” Christmas?
Can war “ruin” Christmas?
Can migrants beseeching entry “ruin” Christmas?
How about the cost to heat our homes?
The dearth of the stock market?
The suffering which abounds in our world today?
The birth of Love
Love in human form
What can destroy love?
What can love eradicate?
Fear, suffering, evil
They chip away at love
But the flame remains
Maybe deeper in hiding
Trying to protect, shield, withstand
The ravages of hardship
But always, Love can be birthed again
Love is borne
In every gentle touch
Every kind word,
Each compassionate act.
The birthing of love
In the face of hate
It Can dispel fear
It Can offer hope.
The gifts offered
To those we love
And those in need
Can bring suffering to its knees
As tears of gratitude and love
Love was given in the form of a person
On Christmas Day
Love has been reborn
Again, and again
Christmas is a reminder
To celebrate love
To celebrate hope
To rekindle our flame
And offer it to others.
Cannot be destroyed
But can be offered
To those whose vision
Is cloaked in suffering
Find a way
To ignite your own spark
In your own way
In your heart!
Brilliant white cloaking the yard Resting upon branches Bringing beauty to the stark winter woods Animal footprints Tracing a path As they search for sustenance Ending at the Crab Apple Tree White frosting clinging to tree trunks Set against grey sky Winter The snow muffles sound Giving us pause As roads are cleared And fires tended We gather by the fire Warming hands Watching flames leap Coals radiating intense heat Peace The peace of winter Moments to pause To reflect On the beauty And preciousness of life Moments of gratitude For shelter, heat, nourishment And love The peace of winter Birds visit the feeders Bringing glimpses of color As they feast Holiday lights strung upon rooftops, On windowsills Candles lit Awaiting birth Announcing Miracle of Light Bringing hope and beauty to our winter world Peace Pause the frenetic pace Of holiday preparations And breathe Breathe in the beauty, the peace The quiet joy In our winter world Let peace fill your soul Warm your heart, your being And radiate out to our winter world! Happy Hannukah! Merry Christmas!!!
The Paschal Mystery it is called
In the Catholic Tradition
We live again, but differently
We are somehow changed.
How do we embrace the sufferings?
Embrace the deaths?
They are a part of our journey
Leading to true wholeness
It makes no sense in the moment
As we grieve
Suffering through loss, pain
It makes no sense
That there could be found
A greater healing; a new life
That we could attain a greater whole
As we embrace, accept
In the path of Mercy.
The dark times
Can seem unending
But, if we can reach out a hand
A smile, a kind word, a loving thought
As we journey our paths
Separate while joined
We might be a thread in another’s resurrection
Sharing our light
In even the smallest way
May bring hope
May help dispel the darkness
Sending in a fragment of life
A firefly to breakthrough the darkness.
May we trust in the mercy of Life
As we travel our own Paschal Mysteries
May we have faith in resurrection
Just as the fragile greens of spring
Open to the lush beauty of summer
As autumns flowers and foliage fade
Into the grays and browns of winter
As the frigid cold and ice cocoon us inside
Until spring arrives once again
So, too, do we travel
Through life, death and resurrection
With each cycle we can journey further
Toward our better, more authentic selves
With each rebirth may we know
greater peace, love and acceptance
May we find hope!
Imperfect. Never brand new again How do we embrace ourselves? Accepting our bodies As life makes it marks Remains one of life’s greatest challenges. Our body is a temple We were told growing up. A temple Dwelling place of the holy It was our job to keep it pure. To keep it perfect. How can that be done Without leaving it in the package? But can we love without opening Without touching and embracing Without getting a little dirty? The first time my eldest was injured I recall the torrent of love Which flooded by being. I can also still feel the fear Fear of loss, of her suffering and of my failure to protect her. That chipped baby tooth Held all those emotions While my heart glimpsed a love Greater than I knew existed. Imperfect. Our bodies are human Human ~ not divine They are mortal and vulnerable Yes, we can nurture them Feed them well Seek peace for our spirit And movement for out limbs We can immunize, do our screenings Take our vitamins And breathe deeply Breathe Deeply But our bodies Wear and tear and break They sag and wrinkle We sometimes creak and sigh and moan We sometimes hurt And it is okay It is not failure It is human. Can we embrace our humanity? Do we believe the Velveteen Rabbit Became more real More loveable As she lost her velvet sheen? Is the only way to invest the talents We have been given* To open the package And dare to live fully The one life we have been granted. Broken is not failure It is a side effect of living. Broken gives path for light Illumination for the inner self The true self When the exterior wrinkles, sags and cracks The outer shell is more flexible Creating room for our true being To stretch and morph Pain, suffering is a part of our human existence Can we accept it And not fear it While we work to alleviate it May it grow within us compassion For the suffering of the world. *Matthew 25:14-30
Their smiles radiate warmth and love Their courage steadfast As they persevere in serving However they are able But they are aging. Their hospitality remains beyond compare In keeping with their vows, They welcome with open arms Providing warm, comfortable beds Peace-filled rooms Nurturing, tasty meals Tea and coffee ever ready. The nuns of today Are mostly survivors from yesteryear Few are coming forth To take their place To care for them As they cared for their predecessors The days of 500 nuns Living in the Yankton monastery And others like it Are past The massive bread oven remains Once providing home made sustenance for the breaking of the bread At hospital, college and monastery Now must limit to monastery alone The oven which for some reason paused my breathing As I stood before it in awe – Five rotating shelves Baking loaves upon loaves Still functioning Baking delicious bread Created though by the hard work Of fewer and fewer nuns They pray. They pray for us all For our world They have lived lives of service Who will serve them? They have given much Our hospitals, schools and so much more I believe The nuns, the sisters Have been moulding our world Mostly for the better For decades now. We do not know What is the power of their prayer We are not even aware The many ways they have served I hope we never need to learn What our world would be Without their service Without their prayers Without their love. Thank you, Benedictine Nuns Thank you, nuns and sisters all!!
Little Lake Sunapee The Summer of ‘22 Gently cloaked by morning mist Wisps of white float upward To the warming sun They swirl, dancing on the surface Leaving shimmering ripples to move across the lake The mist bellows as surface water evaporates Into the cool autumn like air Nearly obscuring the distant shore. Little Sunapee is releasing some of the heat It courageously absorbed Over the course of the Summer of ‘22 The outcroppings of orange and red Flame amongst the tree lined shore Announcing the coming of fall The marinas are coming daily now To tow away the toys of summer People stop by to say, “See you next summer” As they journey south once again. But Little Sunapee remains The healing, baptismal waters Stalwartly fill the lake’s crater Teeming with life within, atop and beside. The snappers will dive deep With the fish who have survived the hunting efforts of The eagles, mergansers, loons And patient fishermen. The loons are still calling But they shall be departing soon For waters which will not freeze The Common Merganser babies continue to glide In their trio They, too, will be venturing to more swiftly flowing unfrozen waters. Three still alive I recall the day when one nearly Became lunch for resident eagle I watched breathlessly as the majestic bird Swooped down from his hunting perch High atop a pine on distant shore Common Merganser youth Floating peacefully in the boat launch all morning Though facing shore She somehow sensed Danger She flew mere inches above the water Likely, her maiden flight Making it to a protected area Safe from the hungry raptor! Life of Little Lake Sunapee The circle of life goes round As the lake offers life to all. The faces of the athletes Arriving to go on the lake With their instructors from NEHSA* Pure, unleashed joy Expressed so magnificently By the young man who had no words But his smile radiated into his eyes And his hands and arms reached out In unbridled happy movements Expressing the joy of his heart People, unable to move lower limbs, Lifted into kayaks To be cradled In the healing waters Of Little Sunapee The man with barely any use Of the left side of his body Propelling his kayak through the water With adaptive equipment Even with his head bent down His smile could be seen Then, as she helped him from the kayak His instructor offered him a swim The day, sweltering in oppressive 90’s The gentleman expressed doubt in his ability But trusted the generous guide Lifejacket intact He moved himself, floating atop the water Free, unencumbered No canes, no brace Freely moving In the healing waters Of Little Lake Sunapee The foursome arriving from VT Hassled, harried Snapping at each other They pushed through their edges And launched their kayaks Faces grim, angry even As they entered the waters Without seeing the welcome Two hours later, They emerged Faces transformed Laughing, joking Filled with the fresh air of nature Speaking of the loons, The wind, and the fun. Healed by the lake. The pregnant woman Carefully watching James and Charles As they delighted in paddling at water’s edge Never tiring of their play Returning another day With new baby sister Sleeping, snugly cocooned upon mom’s chest The boys entering with glee once again As new life comes to the welcoming waters Of the Little Lake Early summer adventures As Momma Merganser Tried to teach babies how to scale the wall and enter the lake How did they know after trying for half an hour, How did they know To enter the woods and walk around the little waterfall How did they know And what gave them the persistence to keep trying for so long Despite knowing there was an easier way? The haunting, compelling call of the loons Their beauty They call Little Sunapee one of their summer homes And such loved residents they are. The dogs, oh the dogs! Zoey, who danced circles of joy From car to water So excited every time she came To enter the magical waters The shepherd, Jada Gathering rocks Over and over Bigger and bigger Day after day Shamus Too cool to dance Making a beeline Needing to cool her fur covered body Going straight into the soothing waters Without so much as a “How do you do?” So many lives enriched So much life nourished Untold healing Happened at the waters of Little Lake Sunapee The Summer of ‘22 What an honor What a privilege it has been To stand witness To a tiny portion Of the life-giving waters Of this beautiful lake. May we all work To keep her healthy To grant her continued life As she continues ever to give life to all! Pat O’Connor *New England Healing Sports Association
We all bear wounds
They mark suffering we have borne
Suffering we are bearing
Wounds, when sacred
Can reach into the soul
Wounds can open us
To our world
To a strength beyond our knowing
To find that passageway
You merely need to probe the tender
Gently, with compassion
Touch, Explore the wound you carry
Where does it go to?
What gives it power to cause suffering?
What mysteries may lie
Under the ineffective scar
Which we present to the world?
Explore with curiosity
Wallow not in the pain
But feel it, see it, and touch it
With a heart of compassion
Then, embracing it
As a part of you
In your wounds, your suffering
There can be found
Wisdom, acceptance and forgiveness
Which brings to the world
Compassion, understanding and kindness
Be present and listen
To the wisdom of the wound
Breathe and accept
The healing power of the wound.