Saturday, July 20, 2013

Born for More (Part 2)

My students will tell you that I often play music while they are working on reflective writing assignments.  It is remarkable how quickly classroom chatter falls silent and work becomes focused when the first notes of a song drift from the speakers.  I find that really good music, secular or sacred, has a spirit that brings clarity and calm when life seems anything but.

After leaving Good Samaritan Hospital most recently, Eileen and I knew we needed some spiritual direction and called Louise Lears, a Sister of Charity whose life has been intertwined with ours many times over the years.  Louise was our backdoor and around the block neighbor and a member of our parish's pastoral team in St. Louis.  She taught a health care ethics course at SLU and so she served first as a mentor, then more recently a guest facilitator for my PT ethics seminar at the Mount.  We are so fortunate to have her in Cincinnati serving on the SC Leadership Council.  Given her background, Louise understands health care, and we knew that we could use her wisdom and guidance discerning our transplant decisions.

After a wonderful, tearful and prayerful time together, Louise's advice was to listen to the Spirit's presence and direction in our lives.

Immediately following our meeting, it was time to do a breathing treatment - one of my first since leaving the hospital.  Given that my last two treatments at home had ended with ambulance runs, I had incredible anxiety.  With Eileen's hands resting on my shoulders and ear buds in my ears, I needed some music to help me stay calm.  I clicked on Pandora (the internet music service that plays music of a certain genre based on your choices of favorite artists) and their Over the Rhine station. 

OtR is a Cincinnati-based band whose music has frequently filled the MSJ Health Science classrooms serenading my students as they script their reflections and sketch their career aspirations.  Apart from the music, the lyrics penned by Linford Detwiler and Karin Bergquist are poetic. (They were ranked the 74th Greatest Living Songwriters by Paste magazine.  If my writing is half as good as their lyrics and prose, I am doing okay). The first song on the cue was "Born," from OtR's Drunkard's Prayer album. 

The first verse ends:

Intuition, deja vu,
The Holy Ghost haunting you.

Whatever you got, I don't mind.

Then the refrain:

I was born to laugh.
I learned to laugh through my tears.
I was born to love.
I'm gonna learn to love without fear.

Louise's prayer to listen to the Spirit still fresh in our minds, this was pretty powerful stuff.  Of course I had chosen the OtR station so maybe that song wasn't played by complete coincidence or Divine Providence.  But with the last words trailing off "without fear..." the second song on the playlist begins; it is "When Your Mind's Made Up" from the movie Once.

When your mind's made up,
when your mind's made up,
there's no point trying to change it.

When your mind's made up,
when your mind's made up,
there's no point even talking.

When your mind's made up,
when your mind's made up,
there's no point trying to fight it.

Louise was right.  The Spirit was present, very present (in a tear-draining, breath-taking, spine-tingling, heart-stirring sort of way) . 

We had our clarity and our calm.  Our minds were made up; confident that I was born to laugh and love - to live more, without fear. 


  1. Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse of your inner workings. You have a beautiful soul and a brilliant mind. I have confidence in God and in you and Eileen. Always praying. Mom McGrath

  2. Thanks for calling me to reflection through sharing your connections with the Spirit. Love you guys!

  3. I have to stop reading this at work - I've got tears falling down my face. Love you all! Joy

  4. Pete, when I first read the title of your blog, I instantly thought of #41 by Dave Matthews Band (go figure!). It's always been a pretty spiritual song for me, but this was the verse I thought of: "I will go in this way, and find my own way out, I wont tell you what to be, but I'm coming to much more..of me"

    You and Eileen have such a wonderful partnership and a world of blessings, and I'm so grateful to read your positive and faith-filled thoughts! Continued prayers for all of you!