39. Find Something To Believe In

Everyone needs something to believe in.  And, I don’t necessarily mean religion.  Oprah would say it’s the belief in something greater than yourself.  Many Native Americans would say it’s belief in The Great Spirit.   Stephen Hawking found his answers through science and in the cosmos.  People who find themselves living with any serious illness, often find the need to search for answers in how to get through it.  The answers may be different for everyone,  but faith in something bigger than yourself can help you find whatever those answers are for you.

I went to the Methodist church growing up.  It was a wonderful church,  but as I got older,  I wasn’t sure if it was quite the right fit for me.  Years later, my husband and daughters,  and I started attending our local Quaker church,  which felt like a better fit for me.  Then, one day my mother and I were in a book store, and I came across a little book called, Heal Thyself.   I read that book, and loved it.   I then found out that there were many more books by,  White Eagle Publishing    Searching bookstores and eBay, I read as many as I could find.   I discovered that this publishing company was a part of The Church of the White Eagle Lodge , which began in England.  And the rest, as they say, is history.   I had found the perfect fit for me.  I know,  the name sounds a bit, “woo-woo”,  but really it’s just a Spiritualist Church. 

Belief, be it in Christianity, Buddhism, the Wiccan faith,  or whatever fits for you, is a way to help make sense of whatever you are going through,  and the world in general.  Whereas in the past, people were limited to whatever belief was practiced in the town that they lived in, now we have the internet,  and access to beliefs all over the world.  You can go to  websites like Beliefnet,  where believe it or not, you can take a quiz which tells you which religion or belief system most closely matches up with what you believe in.  Don’t laugh!  I took the quiz, and their match ups were spot on.  It’s a great site to explore every belief out there.  When my girls were younger,  for years,  because of my illness, we didn’t make it to church as often as I would have liked.  Then there were many years when we didn’t go at all.   But I still wanted them to be aware of all the different beliefs there were, and wanted them to discover what would be a good match for them.  So,  I used to assign to them projects on some Sundays in loo of attending church.  They would have to pick a religion or belief and research it on the internet, using a few trusted sites,  like Beliefnet,  and write a few paragraphs on it (it seemed like a good idea at the time).  They usually spent less time on their project than they would’ve spent at church, just cutting and pasting instead of writing (they didn’t think it was as much fun as I thought it was… Shocking,  I know!), but I think maybe it helped us all learn a little something.  

Oprah did a seven part TV series on different theologies from all over the world,  simply called, Belief.   It is very interesting.   We may use different words to describe our faith,  but the meaning behind those words, often have a lot in common.  Beliefs can overlap and just because you may be a Christian,  doesn’t mean that you won’t also find yourself following the beliefs of the Buddhist faith,  for example.   Whatever you have found to believe in in your life,  it should bring you peace and joy.  Take some time to explore different faiths.  Even if you are perfectly happy with yours.  You might be surprised with what you learn, and find a new understanding of the people who you share this big blue marble with.

 

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36. When Your Inspiration Dies

What do you do when your inspiration dies?   Stephen Hawking died.  He was an inspiration to everyone living with ALS /MND.  Diagnosed in 1963, I believe he was known to have lived the longest with the disease.  When diagnosed,  he was given just three years to live.  He surpassed that,  and just kept going.  When you are given news that your life is about to end,  someone who defies the odds becomes your inspiration to keep going,  just like they did.  If he can survive,  then so can I,  I always thought.  And really,  I guess that hasn’t changed.  He did live with ALS for 55 years,  and I am only up to 20 years,  so far.

I suppose you just have to trust that the Universe /God has your back.  Just last night,  I remember waking up in the middle of the night,  having heard an odd noise.  I don’t remember exactly what it was,  but I remember thinking it almost sounded like a person saying something.  My husband was still asleep,  and no one else was there.  I definitely didn’t dream it, and it was loud enough to wake me up.  Then,  this morning after I had gotten up,  and was in the bathroom washing my face (well,  having my face washed),  I was thinking about what the noise could have been.  I wondered if somehow it was a noise from the face mask I wear for my bi-pap machine?  It has air constantly being pushed through it for me to breathe,  and can sometimes make noises when air breaks through the seal on the nasal mask.  But,  not sounds like a person making a noise.  Then,  I wondered if it was just someone watching out for me,  I don’t know,  God,  a Spirit guide,  guardian angel,  etc…  I wondered if I had quit breathing and someone thought they would wake me up so that I would take a breath.  That happens every night,  I mean,  me not breathing,  which is why I use the bi-pap machine.  It forces air into my lungs to keep me breathing while I am sleeping.  Since I was washing my face, I had my eyes closed as I thought about this,  and just as I had that thought about someone waking me up,  I heard a noise that sounded like something fell from the ceiling in the corner of my bathroom.  I looked and didn’t see anything.  Coincidence?  Or was someone saying,  yea, that’s what happened! 

Over the years,  people have commented and wondered why Stephen Hawking never used his status as a well-known scientist living with Motor Neuron Disease (ALS) to help raise awareness of the disease, and perhaps help to find a cure.  Call me crazy,  but I truly believe that at least part of the reason Stephen Hawking lived for so long, was because he chose not to focus on his MND.  He was in college and just beginning to make some wonderful discoveries about science and the way the world works,  when he was diagnosed.  He ignored his disease as much as possible, and went on to live his life to the fullest.   If he had focused all his attention on his disease,  he may not have had the focus necessary to make the scientific discoveries that he made.  I think a disease,  any disease,  can quite easily become the focus of your life,  and take over your life.   He certainly is proof that nothing,  not even ALS /MND can stop you from living a wonderful life.  Even from the great beyond, he will always remain an inspiration to many.