Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. ~ Hebrews 11:1
Now the God of hope fills you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. ~ Romans 15:13
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. ~ Psalm 28:7-8
Today marks the last edition of the regular distribution of DeSales Daily for Spring 2020. We hope that you have enjoyed the special feature, Salesian Strength, which was designed to offer inspiration to the University Community from our own community members. Without doubt, this semester we have needed inspiration.
A good number of you have remarked how you have enjoyed the reflections that our colleagues have written. Indeed, we have a wealth of spirit and grace among us. What a gift to share it with each other!
I also want to thank Kristin Laudenslager and Dave Oblas for their technical work with this feature.
As we conclude for the semester, I thank, on behalf of us all, those who contributed to Salesian Strength. I trust we are richer—and stronger—because of their insights and generosity.
Blessings of health and safety to you and those you love.
Fr. Kevin Nadolski, OSFS
Vice President for Mission
Jim Greenfield, OSFS
Dan Wisniewski, OSFS
Doug Burns, OSFS
Kevin Nadolski, OSFS
For once, for a long time,
we have time,
we have time.
Everything’s stopped and we’re reduced to ourselves.
Let’s go back to ourselves,
let’s take advantage of the confinement
to descend into ourselves
and discover reasons to be, to exist, to rejoice.
No more noise, no more hurry, no more stress.
Let’s not fill that apparent void that can be frightening…
by way of busy lives or distractions:
let us remain within ourselves, given to ourselves,
in truth, in freedom, free from all that encumbers us.
We have within us the resources we need…
to live, to relive, to develop the joy of life.
Finally time, finally time to be simply!
Time to watch, to think quietly,
time to read, reread, re-read his vital links,
review its commitments, define its priorities.
Finally deflated by what is wind, by what is vain..;
Finally confident, confident through confinement.
Let us rediscover the taste of simplicity and frugality.
Free from what is cluttering us up
and brought back inside our homes,
within ourselves, let’s cultivate this rediscovered interiority.
Let us not retreat into solitude or isolation:
Let’s enjoy being alone, to give more quality to our relationships.
Let us rediscover silence in order to make better use of speech.
Can we still read while relaxing in a chair?
Do we give ourselves the time to reread
what has built us: classics, novels, poetry, various wisdoms? Are we still able to really listen to music,
not as background music
that keeps us from going down into our deepest hearts,
but to join the unspeakable in us?
Space is limited for us now.
Do we take advantage of this to rediscover what surrounds us:
the house, those who live in it, nature?
We finally have the possibility to stay close to our loved ones.
Let’s give them our time. Let’s take time with them:
Spouses, children, parents, neighbors.
“Time is more important than space”
likes to repeat Pope Francis.
This is the time to verify it, to live it.
Do we have the experience of prayer,
of a living, life-giving connection to that which is beyond us?
Let’s give ourselves a breath of fresh air,
let’s open our bronchial tubes wide to God’s Breath.
Let’s learn to breathe differently, for a long time,
to talk, to pray, to sing.
Our thoughts of confinement, our friendship and our prayer…
are particularly concerned with the sick and dying
and to all those who assist them to the point of heroism.
If we know how to make the most of this time that is given us, freed,
we will expand our spaces of life, of reflection, of love.
After the ordeal of this confinement, this forced general shutdown..,
we will come back again, renewed, from this withdrawal, from this retreat,
to give out, to give ourselves, rather than to take,
to truly serve and know true joy
to be, to be reborn, to receive and to give meaning to life.
+ Robert Le Gall
Archbishop of Toulouse
March 25, 2020
The Annunciation of the Lord
Be who you are and be that well. ~ Saint Francis de Sales
How we talk to ourselves can be a powerful part of sustaining perspective. Some thoughts:
These ideas are in no way intended to avoid acknowledging how one is feeling in a particular moment. In fact, “it’s okay to not be okay.” It can, however, help us to remind each other that it’s possible to expand our interior messaging.
“Don’t fear; the divine spirit will take care of you. Either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength.” (adapted from Francis DeSales)
Steven Dennis, M.F.A.
Associate Professor of Performing Arts, DeSales University
Artistic Associate, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival
Six years ago, on Mother’s day weekend, I became a mother. Although having children was always a part of my plan, nothing could have prepared me for the totality of the experience. The first few months of my first daughter’s life were exhausting, filled with around-the-clock feedings and sleepless nights spent comforting her. During the most physically challenging times, I would focus on the fact that millions of mothers over countless generations around the world had endured, and I drew on their strength to keep me awake and rocking. Three years later, when my second daughter was born, the feeling was entirely different. I knew what to expect, and I had developed strength and confidence in my mothering abilities. In those moments, I realized that being a mother was no longer one piece of who I was; rather, my daughters’ existence defines my existence.
Millions of parents around the world are facing the difficult challenge of trying to make this situation as “normal” for their children as possible; finding ways to nurture and educate their children, while also working full-time from home. Finding ways to make face-masks less scary, missing friends less painful, and the uncertainty of when they will return to school less worrisome.
For many of us, this is the most unique situation of our lifetime. Our society has never faced a two-month stay-at-home order and its economic impacts. There is no past experience of this magnitude that provides clarity, perspective, and confidence. When I think about whether I will be able to take my daughters to the beach this summer, or whether my oldest will begin 1st grade in the Fall without needing to wear a mask to school, I am reminded of the words of Princess Anna of Arendelle (Frozen II plays frequently in our home these days) as she, too, faces an unknown future:
I won’t look too far ahead
It’s too much for me to take
But break it down to this next breath, this next step
This next choice is one that I can make
With these words, Anna is reminding herself to focus on the things she can control, in order to summon the strength to endure in the face of grief. For as long as this situation lasts, I will focus on the two most important things in my life, my daughters. With each story, craft, snack, and bedtime, I will share as many hugs as I can, so that they may emerge from quarantine feeling safe and loved. That is one choice that I can make.
Julie Himmelberger, Ph.D.
Division Head, Sciences and Mathematics
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. ~ Psalm 91-1:2
Twenty Doctor of Physical Therapy students and three faculty members traveled to Guatemala in February to provide care to the poor of Guatemala. Five days after their return, Guatemala was closed to all international flights. The following is a student’s reflection about the trip. Her lessons learned will help guide us through the pandemic crisis.
All physical therapists want the patient they can instantly cure. The quick spinal manipulation or the simple modification of a poorly fitting brace. Rarely does life work this way.
Too often our goals switch from “cure” to “improving the quality of life.” These are the patients that tug at our hearts for a long, long time. The patients we dream about. The patients we pray for.
A woman is pushed in a wheelchair by her husband up to a treatment table. We are in rural Guatemala. The trees shade us a bit but the temperature is in the mid-90s. I am working with two other students. The wheelchair stops in front of me.
The first thing I notice are the double amputations. Both legs are missing below the knees. I learn that she has diabetes or “azucar” in Spanish. She lost her legs because she could not afford the insulin prescribed to her. As a second-year student, I was not yet fully knowledgeable about diabetes.
I took the opportunity to observe while Dr. Carp educated me on what exactly we were seeing presented in front of us. In addition to the amputations, this woman was having neuropathy symptoms spreading throughout her body. Her fingers were scarred by inadvertent injuries because she lacked feeling in her hands. Some of the wounds were bleeding.
As she sat rubbing her arms, we noticed her jugular veins were markedly distended, indicating possible heart failure. She breathed rapidly. All these signs pointed to poor quality of life and a very shortened life-span.
As physical therapists, especially in rural Guatemala, we haven’t the tools to make a positive impact on this dear woman’s life. So, I listened. I listened to her tell us of her life as child in the very town we were practicing in. I listened as she told us of her children and husband. She told me of her dream to visit the Vatican and meet the Pope.
Interventionally, all I could do was to teach her about diabetes: caring for her skin, eating properly, and getting rest. I taught her son how to safely lift her from the wheelchair to the bed. I gave her bandages and antibiotic cream for the wounds on her hands. I was there for her emotionally.
I learned that as a physical therapist I will not always get the outcome I want when treating patients. I will struggle to help my patients and the best thing I can do for them is simply to be present.
I learned that patients often know their illnesses are incurable, but what they want — what they need — is a loving presence. Sometimes they just want to be heard and know that they are in the presence of a health care provider that truly cares. I now know that if I do that for every patient I will truly connect and make an impact.
From here forward, I will not judge my performance on my outcomes; I will judge my performance by my effort. I will not always get the home-run patient, and sometimes I’ll struggle to find a way to help my patient but the best thing is to be present.
Over the course of five days, the DeSales Physical Therapy program cared for 200-plus patients ranging in age, education, and economic status. All those factors didn’t matter though — we weren’t treating the differences, we were treating the person sitting in front of us.
There was a gentleman who came up and sat with my group one day, and we were on short supply of translators. While we waited for someone to aid in our communication, this gentleman continued to tell us stories. I could have listened to him for hours. It didn’t matter that I only understood every fifth word that was spoken.
We eventually learned that he had come seeking medical treatment for his vision, a service we could not provide. He also had dementia and was just so extremely grateful for the opportunity to talk to us. He extended several blessings and embraced us as he thanked us repeatedly. We watched as the man walked away alone down the streets of the small village.
This trip was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. This was an example of just a few impactful moments, but there were countless. From seeing a 35-year-old post-polio patient, to feeding children living the poorest lifestyle I’ve ever laid eyes on. From the gorgeous landscape and scenery to the beautiful moments when our patients would show us gratitude for something as simple as a pair of shoes. Not only did we learn so much about the country and people of Guatemala, but we learned a vast amount about ourselves.
There is no doubt in my mind that this trip changed my life. It gave me the opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than myself. Not only did I gain a whole new level of confidence in my ability to be a healthcare provider; it gave me a perspective of life and what true kindness really means. The people of Guatemala radiate love and humility, and it’s impossible not to be in awe of them. Until we meet again…
Physical Therapy Student