Gethsemane Gardens

In my mind, I have been desperately trying to stay the course, the narrow way. Students when you are looking at memento mori, All things will die, it puts your life in a positive perspective.

Last year at Easter I was in the hospital fighting for my life. Two weeks ago my husband was at Vanderbilt fighting for his life. Four days into his stay at the hospital our youngest granddaughter was rushed to Le bonheur. Both are now home. God’s mercy has rained down once again on the Alley family.

My husband is one of the most honorable men I have ever met. I think in some ways he is a saint for putting up with me. He is also very stubborn. His pulmonologist wanted him to go to the emergency room because his oxygen levels dipped into the 40s as he slept. Remember I said he is very stubborn so he bargained for one more night before going to the emergency room in Nashville. That night was like a night in the garden of Gethsemane for my son and me. He watched till 3 AM and I watched you until 6 AM. Each time he would go into the low numbers we would stir him. Then the next day my son drove him to Nashville to Vanderbilt. My son told me that we almost lost him on the way and he had to continually keep him awake. When he reached the ER his CO2 levels were 100%. The normal level is in the twenties. In the year 2009 they told my husband he had 2 years left on these lungs. With much love and sacrifice from family and friends, the hands and feet of God, have pulled us back out and given us more time together. We know we will die one day. We totally accept that. But students also understand that we are created of flesh and spirit. The spiritual world is a mystery but we are part of it. As our earthly life ends, our spiritual birth will begin. My husband and I know that there is more. Thanks be to God. Our bodies will return to the Earth but our spirits will soar.

Life is more limited for him but he is still here for a time as we all are. Students, our work is not over until all know the truth. The closer I get to heaven the more I feel. Last night I was able to go to Holy Thursday service. I was tired but I stayed the course and I am so glad. I was able to witness 13 young young boys and girls take their 1st communion. As the priest washed their feet just like the disciples that fateful night I wept with happiness. Watching all of the parents and the children built up hope within me that others want to take care of the treasures on this Earth, especially the children. Although this world is upside down there is still a light of Christ that will shine until the very end of time on Earth.

Yesterday I was also blessed to go around my little town square. Every shop I visited and every car that passed was filled with good greetings and love as my Goddaughter and I were getting silent auction gifts to raise money for the local YMCA. God was filling my heart with love that I had thought was leaving our little community. Every word, every conversation, spoke of a greater Love. It gave me hope.

Last Thursday night was the night in the garden of Gethsemane. As we left the church in silence following the Eucharist, I was challenged with my own dark night. Thinking about all of the hurts in all of our families and all of the tragedy of the world. Friends with cancer and friends with strokes received many prayers. I did not sleep much last night. As I awoke Friday morning, I gave thanks to God for one more day. It was indeed a Good Friday. Students find somewhere to celebrate Christ this Sunday; it’s homework!

Sarah Anderson Alley
Sal the Triduum loving Gal

Quotes of the Day:
“Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.“ — Fulton J. Sheen

“What Our Lord did say on the cross was to forgive. Forgive your Pilates, who are too weak to defend your justice; forgive your Herods, who are too sensual to perceive your spirituality; forgive your Judases, who think worth is to be measured in terms of silver.”
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

“The virtue of hope lies not in the future of time, but beyond the tomb in eternity; its object is not the abundant life of earth, but the eternal love of God.” -Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

Wired, Hope, & Hearts

 

Wired, Hope, & Hearts

In my mind today I’m thinking about being wired, “Hoping against Hope,”and eyes of the heart. Having a disease like ALS, I have to be “wired” most of the time. My devotion today suggested I unplug. I chuckled as I was reading it on my iPhone. My hands are too weak to hold a physical book and use paper and pen. My modus operandi is reading and pecking away on my phone. Sadly, this too is going to end eventually. Don’t cheer back row, because some earthly angels have gifted me with a Dynavox: a device where I use my eyes to type and communicate. So, hopefully my blogging, teaching, and writing will go on a bit longer. I hear moaning back there! So Sal the Wired Gal still needs to zone out occasionally without these electronic devices and so do you. Yes, here’s your first assignment of the day: pick a small block of time and turn off your phone, tablet, lap top, or PC. I used to sometimes spend my lunches or planning periods at school alone in my room in the dark. I would begin praying, meditating, and often times sleeping. I do that now every day sometime between 8 AM and 11 AM. You know what? It recharges me. Front row, you caught that pun didn’t you? Yes back grow, this is a grade.

My phrase of the day is “Hoping against Hope.” In the Alley family, we’ve had and continue to have a lot of “Hoping against Hope” scenarios. It has been a harrowing past few months. My husband crashed in the ER and was slowly brought back from a vent. A dear niece of mine almost lost her life to lung disease. My great-nephew endured a traumatic, life threatening head injury. My older brother is on the brink of self-destruction with addiction issues. My dear mother continues to decline mentally with Alzheimer’s. Of course, I continue to fight ALS. This all seems surreal. It’s sounds like a Lifetime movie and fiction. It’s simply life. Just like the quote from Ian Maclauren, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This is ever so true. We are all “Hoping against Hope.” I hear you asking, “Ms. Alley, how can we continue on? It all seems so hopeless.” Ah, but “Hoping against Hope” is not hopeless and here’s your second assignment. Use your prayers and petitions to summon a miracle. Right now after reading this, whisper a prayer for something you feel hopeless about. Ask for guidance. Unplug yourself and listen. Remember I’m a teacher at heart. I’m tying this lesson together. There’s always Hope. It’s one of the big three: Faith, Hope, and Love.

I’ll end with eyes of the heart. I stumbled across this or it was planted in my mind the other day: eyes of the heart. I thought to myself how beautiful? Back row I see you looking perplexed picturing a heart with literal eyeballs on it. It’s so much deeper than that. I think looking at problems, people, and situations with your heart is something of divinity. When as a mere human, we begin to seek and to see with a humble, all encompassing heart then we are literally in the heart of our maker. I know I’m getting a bit cheesy here but let me share this quick story. During mass one Sunday, I had an epiphany. As I prayed, looked at the crucifix, and took communion, I realized God had escaped my heart. I was now being carried inside of His heart. Yes, back row Ms. Alley is a bit Cuckoo. I had the realization that I was free from ALS. I was now being carried through this earthly life for something greater. People always ask, “How do you do all that you do?” Well this is the answer. I now look with God’s heart as I roll around in my wheelchair. He moves me, puts people in my life to assist me, and carries me through each adventure. Eyes of the Heart.

Last assignment I promise. Today when you unplug, “Hope against Hope, and look with your heart, smile because you have been given another day to make the world a better place. Be grateful for the good and the bad. Each day is a new beginning to begin anew. If you are reading this, you have a purpose to fill and jobs yet to do. Get out there! Go in Peace to love and serve others.
Sal the Spiritual Gal
Sarah Anderson Alley

Quotes of the Day:

“Hope against hope, and ask till ye receive.”
James Montgomery

 

“I’m a romantic; a sentimental person thinks things will last, a romantic person hopes against hope that they won’t.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
Jesus Christ

Longer

Longer

In my mind today I’m exhausted. I’ve been jetting all over in my wheelchair since Sunday. I may be Sal the ALS Gal but I’m not giving in until I burn completely out. I hear my loved ones and even the back row saying, “Slow down Ms. Alley. You look so tired. Your breathing is labored. You’re swelling all over. We need you here longer.” Yes, longer is what we want especially in dire situations.

Sunday was mass, meal with the family, watching ball games, and reading. Monday was meetings of the Tween bookclub and race organizers gathering to tweak the Autumn March for ALS. Tuesday was soliciting money and prizes for the Autumn March for ALS 2017. Wednesday was visiting the ALS Clinic and my sweet great nephew at Le Bonheur who is fighting for longer, too. So, today I really need to rest and try to get my fluid levels in check. It gives me a chance to read, reflect, and write. And this feeds my soul and gives me life. Longer.

Reading about prayers this morning and how some are answered in the way we want and when other prayers are answered differently, we feel jilted. Yesterday at the ALS Clinic I heard the lock click and open slightly. People who know me and who have loved ones affected by ALS have been pleading for help with this horrible disease have an option to help their loved ones. It’s the first drug offered in 20 years. The neurologist yesterday asked would I consider trying a new infusion drug that has become available FDA approved. It is Radicava. It has shown to give some improvements in mobility and slowed the progression of ability loss. If you’ve seen me dining out with my family or friends, I know you’ve noticed eating is very hard. My husband and friends are starting to help and feed me. My arms are becoming too atrophied and very tired to feed myself. As an example, this drug could slightly could improve my strength and slow the deterioration. My weakened diaphragm and pulmonary function can be improved and sustained. It’s an answered prayer or a door opened according to my readings today. My children are young and I know they need me here. Longer.

After receiving this news, I signed or scratched my name on the paperwork. We headed across town to see my great nephew, niece, and sister. When I saw Kyler lying there broken, tears emerged. I would have given the rest of my vitality and allow him to jump up and start asking his crazy questions, jump on my wheelchair wanting to go on an adventure, roll in the yard with his dogs, or start a burn pile with his Peepaw Butch. He laid still breathing. I only wanted to hold his hand and pray.

The warmth from his little fingers gave me hope of better days. My eyes closed as I prayed searching for the Holy Spirit to fill us. I’m being bold and I’m asking for that high spirited, handsome young man to wake up and say, “Momma, Nanna what’s going on? I’m ready to go play. Hey Nonna, am I going be getting off the bus at your house this week? Dad, thanks for being here. Kenny, let’s go fishing! Misty, I’m ready to see Lex and play remote control cars with Uncle Josh and the boys. Let me hold Avy Lynn and play with Audrey Belle and Andi Kate today. Can I PLEEEESE stay with Nanna tonight? Momma, can you rock me?” Yes, I know prayers can be answered. I know Kyler is strong and a fighter. I believe in miracles.

As one prayer is being answered for Sal the ALS Gal, I’m not giving up on our Miracle for Kyler. He’s stable but critical. The journey to complete recovery may be long or short. There are so, so many on deathbeds, have terminal illnesses or chronic diseases, and mental illnesses from schizophrenia to addictions that need to be here longer for their loved ones. Longer so they can love them and seek a miracle. Don’t be shy. Seek and you can find a miracle. Ask and the door can be opened. Pray for longer.
Sarah Anderson Alley

Dedicated to the Wesley Neurology Clinic, Kyler Doolin, and all of us praying for longer.

Quotes of the Day:
Luke 11:5-13
Jesus said to his disciples: “Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him,’ and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything.’ I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

“Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see.”
C.S. Lewis