Borrowed from: Stephen – S. Bradford Long Blog – Daily Reflection.
Every day, I go to work as a grocery store cashier at a family-owned business in a prosperous region of the more generally depressed Appalachian mountains. This work has transformed my life, not because it is the exciting, high-impact, high-power job so many of us dream about in our twenties and thirties, but because it brings me into direct contact with humanity.
I am sometimes astonished by the suffering, just beneath the surface, that permeates the air. I see it in the grocery store in a way I might not see it in other careers, because all humanity – the miserable and the joyful, the ill and the well, the rich and the poor – need to eat. Therefore, the grocery store is a gathering place where all social lines breakdown. We are united by the commonality of food.
I see a young man – eyes drooping, so thin I can see his spine poking against his teeshirt, dragging himself through the aisles as if he is dragging a tank behind him. I watch him through the aisles, I check him out at the register, and he is often rude, empty. Being a depressive myself, I know the marks of an inner Hell that is tearing him to shreds.
I watch people dying slowly and miserably of terminal illnesses that they cannot afford to address. Some are full of bile, their regret cast before them like a long shadow, while others are trying to soak up as much life as they can.
I remember the old woman who received a phone call while in my line to inform her that her grandson had just committed suicide. She wept, and I listened hard to her stories of her grandson. She thanked me, and went on her way.
I remember the man who wandered through my line, tears in his eyes. He looked at me as if he were starving for something I couldn’t give him, and he said, “My best friend just died of a heroin overdose. Please, please, value your friends, value every moment you have on this earth.” He wandered out the door, lost in his grief.
An old woman came through me line once, and her cart was full of frozen cakes. She met my eyes. “My daughter just killed herself,” she said. “These frozen cakes were her favorite. I will save them, I will keep them forever.”
I see meth addicts, skeletons of their former selves. I see alcoholics, the smell of whiskey heavy on their breath. I see the mentally ill, talking to people who aren’t there, and I see the homeless, wandering in from the street because we have air conditioning and cheap food. I see shreds of humanity abandoned and forgotten.
I see joy, too. I see the old woman who had finally, after years of saving money, finally got teeth. And, to top it all off, she got an aesthetist to remove all her facial hair. Now she flashes her brilliant smile at everyone she can, and she is radiant with joy. All she ever wanted was teeth, and now she has them.
In this setting, in which new suffering walks through our doors every day, mixed in with the mundane, the regular, the blithely happy, feeding the public is transformed. It’s no longer a chore, but a sacrament. When I hand people whatever nourishing food they’ve chosen off the shelves, I hear the words of Christ, “This is my body, broken for you.”
That everyday moment is transfigured into something sacred, for it is full of the recognition that this is another human soul, and that this human soul is capable of galaxies of silent suffering. That connection with suffering, and that offering up of nourishment – that is holy, that is sacred.
Every day, I am reminded that we all feel pain. We all suffer. We all yearn to be seen. And this realization fills me with a tenderness that words cannot express. I can’t put it into words, this seeing of humanity. I wish I could share this tenderness with everyone I can. I wish I could tell everyone who seems dubious of my work, “no, you don’t understand. Working in a grocery store is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste of my talents. If only you could see what I see.”
AND Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
NOTHING, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes…
…Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.
This reading should be tacked at all points of view in everybody’s home, no matter who you are, alcoholic or not. It is a reading that I should have used recently, for some of my guys, and most importantly for myself.
I am told, and I tell this to my guys that, it isn’t the destination that matters, it is the journey in between that matters, and will mean something. I heard one of my guys talk about the counter-intuitive nature of the above passage.
In his work, he is sober. But his workmates are not. And the million dollar millennial has stars in his eyes, and is idealistic, and is of the mind, that if he puts in the time, work and talent, that at 35, he is going to be a millionaire, and be able to retire on that yacht in Monaco.
I am afraid, and we are afraid that the end point is nigh, and may not happen, and placing such expectation on God, is folly…
They say that: We make PLANS and GOD laughs …
Acceptance comes, daily. In the moment. Every moment.
I’ve seen people come in, having lost everything, some who have lost some, and even others, who lost nothing, but their self respect and dignity. I watch people come in and have stars in their eyes, and hear them say,
“Well, I’m going to get it all back, just you watch and see…”
And how many of those people recoup their losses on any kind of grand scale ?
Very Few …
You might get sober, and then come to realize that God has bigger and usually better plans for us, than we know ourselves. God’s time, is a long haul proposition.
Waiting for God, is like watching paint dry on a house.
Every time I read this story, or think about acceptance, I get choked up. Tears fall from my eyes, and I feel lamentation, in the worst way.
Mental Illness is serious business.
When I met hubby many years ago, he was ebullient, romantic, sexual, dynamic and young. The early months, of our relationship was filled with things, that have long since disappeared, never to be seen again.
It was good, that, at the time, people were quoting page 417 to me constantly.
Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.
Because when Mental Illness struck us, the man who went into treatment, was NOT the same man who came out the other end. The doctors failed to tell me this truth while it was happening right in front of me.
Talk about Acceptance …
Relationships are built on Love, Trust and Respect. If you commit, you commit. Even before we spoke vows in front of family and friends, shit had happened. Cruel shit, that nobody knows about, to this very day.
Not One Person …
Nobody knows how bad it got. Nobody knows the finer details of what mental illness does to a couple. But I was damned sure that what my family and friends saw, was the best possible vision of a man who survived treatment for Mental Illness. And on that very day, He was the Best Presentable Image of a Whole Man, Body and Soul.
That was the man I married. We were celebrating who HE was, in that moment.
It took me a long time to reconcile who He was, with who He became, through treatment. I kinda felt cheated that I was short changed in the end. But I was committed. Those wedding vows were tested for damned sure, before we even hit that altar.
Acceptance was the key.
It was a very good thing that I was getting sober, and I had at least 15 months in the program, before SHIT hit the FAN. Because it took all of my friends, some serious work, to keep me ON THE BEAM, for the next year of treatment.
I do not regret one day of it. I did the best I could do, given the circumstances. I did everything possible to make hubby comfortable and to care for him, to the best of my abilities. Every Single Day, and I still do, to this day.
I miss the ebullient man he used to be. And every time someone suggests this passage, I get emotional, because I know, to my very core, what this passage means to my life, in a visceral way.
We have two choices in our relationships.
- You can either accept life as it unfolds, knowing you are powerless over many things, and you won’t have all the answers, or
- You run, in the other direction, when life gets tough.
- You either LOVE harder than you have ever loved before, or
- You never love that way ever again …
- That is what makes a marriage, every bit sweeter …
- That you can live up to, and into those vows you speak
Marriage vows are written in a certain way. They are a warning about what may happen to you, when you least expect it, and better be informed as you stand before God, and you commit to your husband/wife/partner/significant other, that you are promising these certain unknowns.
That if they happen, you were once warned.
Running out when shit happens, is not suggested, but many people fail this test, when shit hits the fan. Which is why 417 needs to be plastered in every home on earth.
If you can accept that whatever is going to happen, probably will happen, and that God, in his infinite wisdom, ordains the universe, and that you might not get, that end point filled with expectations, you just might get, whatever God believes we are due …
That is total acceptance.
By Charles Davis
It feels insufficient to say that children from Syria are suffering from “PTSD.” The oft-orphaned survivors of a horrible ongoing humanitarian crisis are, likely, experiencing post-traumatic stress, but these children of war have experienced more trauma — physical and emotional — than the medical professionals who care for them have ever seen: the shredded remains of their mom or dad, blown apart by a regime barrel bomb, a Russian cruise missile, or, increasingly, U.S. airstrikes.
“Human devastation syndrome” is Dr. M.K. Hamza’s term for the orphaned end-result.
“We have talked to so many children, and their devastation is above and beyond what even soldiers are able to see in the war,” Hamza, a neuropsychologist with the Syrian-American Medical Society, told ATTN:. “They have seen dismantled human beings that used to be their parents, or their siblings. You get out of a family of five or six or 10 or whatever — you get one survivor, two survivors sometimes. A lot of them have physical impairments. Amputations. Severe injuries. And they’ve made it to the refugee camp somehow.”
Hamza chairs the mental health committee of SAMS, whose 1,000 Syrian-American members have volunteered to provide medical aid wherever survivors of the worst war the 21st century has yet seen can be found.
“You have children who are devastated,” he said, “and this is not the end of it.”
The emotional and material problems facing Syrian civilians are compounded every day by the crushing poverty and exploitation that Syrians experience at refugee camps — where 1 in 5 of the half-million inhabitants are under the age of 11 — and on the streets of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, which host the majority of the more than 4.9 million people who have fled Syria since 2011, when mass protests for democracy were met with bullets by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Another 6.3 million people are internally displaced, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and another half a million have been killed.
“Even the word ‘poor’ is not justifiable here because it’s a less than human condition,” Hamza said, speaking from the sidelines of SAMS’ Feb. 18 conference in Huntington Beach, California.
Iyad Alkhouri, a psychiatrist who volunteers with SAMS, testified to that.
“I have patients who tell me they were touched inappropriately by their doctors,” Alkhouri said in an address to the conference. “The doctors, because [the patients] were Syrian, assumed they were ‘whores.’”
“There are girls on the streets of Beirut selling themselves — 8, 9 years old,” he said. “And then you tell their parents: Why don’t you send them to school so they can improve themselves? And they say, ‘They make $50 a day. Can you give me $50 a day?’”
“Whatever we’re doing is just a Band-Aid,” Anas Moughrabieh, an intensive-care physician with SAMS, told ATTN:.
He’s helped care for Syrian patients evacuated to the Turkish border town of Antakya, where he’s also trained medical workers returning to treat the victims of bombings and shellings in Syria itself. “We try to fill the gaps,” he said, “but all the relief organizations — we’re just putting a Band-Aid on the wound. We’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.”
The root cause of the problem, as he sees it, is a “tyranny” that, “faced with peaceful people who were demonstrating for democracy in the beginning — it faced them with arms and airstrikes.” Nearly every hospital or clinic SAMS supports in Syria has been attacked, and nine out of 10 times it’s by airstrikes, he said, meaning those strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally (the armed opposition does not have an air force).
Over 90 percent of the civilians killed in Syria since March 2011 have been killed by the regime and its allies, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an independent monitoring organization.
Syrian-American Medical Society – sams-usa.net
“Instead of providing resources to treat this 10-year-old child who was hit by a missile,” he argued, “we have to stop the missile before it hits them.”
But missiles and governments aren’t the only killers in Syria. “We had one hospital in Aleppo… that was attacked by ISIS thugs, and they came in actually to the ICU and killed one of the patients, who was a civilian,” Moughrabieh said. And in Idlib, the last major opposition bastion after the fall of Aleppo, an armed group “attacked one of our hospitals” and tried to take it over, he said, rebel in-fighting on the ground complementing the threat from above.
One irony, SAMS President Dr. Ahmad Tarakji told ATTN:, is that working in the same area as some of these hostile groups is enough to get one labeled as their ally. Indeed, that’s one of the major threats to humanitarian work these days.
“Anybody who is involved in humanitarian care could be labeled a terrorist,” he said. “The concept — the illusion — of protecting health care workers has been challenged in Syria, meaning you can be killed.”A child who makes it to a refugee camp in these conditions is one of the lucky ones.
“You have millions of children who are devastated,” Hamza, the neuropsychologist, told ATTN:, “and you have to ask, ‘Where is this going to lead?’” One thing is for sure, and it runs counter to the see-no-evil isolationism that, at least rhetorically, is now en vogue: “It’s going to impact the whole world.”