My health has been deteriorating for several years, but I have never had an explanation for this. However, last Thursday I was given a diagnosis of Autonomic Neuropathy (AN).
AN is an incurable degenerative disorder, in which the brain loses the ability to regulate processes that normally happen automatically. It affects the functioning of multiple body systems, including, for example, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature control, bladder, digestion, eyesight, balance and energy.
There are several sub-types of AN. Some are more severe than others. Some progress more quickly than others. A battery of tests over the next few weeks and months should eventually indicate which type I have, how quickly I can expect to deteriorate, and my anticipated life-expectancy.
About a year ago, as my health deteriorated, I reached a point where I could no longer go to church. Since then, I have hoped in vain that some of the people there who I thought of as friends might notice my absence and make contact with me. However, only one member of my local congregation has stayed in touch.
Over the last few days I have realised how deeply I lack sources of spiritual nourishment with like-minded people. This has made me see that I need to stop hoping for contact, understanding and support from church, where there is so little available. Instead, I want to accept, share, and develop, relationships that are available to me, for example, with spiritually-minded friends online.
So, it’s time for me to start afresh, to change, and to focus much more on some reciprocal relationships. This feels like a very positive realisation. Indeed, it’s already leading me to explore a much more universal faith than is possible within the narrow confines of a single, rule-based denomination.
With this new-found approach, I can start putting my very limited energy into seeking and finding God in everyone and everything, a prospect which fills me with joy. God really does work in mysterious ways, bringing good even out of situations that can appear wholly negative.
Accordingly, yesterday, as I prepared my blog for posting, I found great pleasure in illustrating it with a wonderful photo of a woman priest joyfully celebrating communion. This simply doesn’t happen in my denomination, where all women are automatically excluded from the priesthood, simply because of their gender.
Using the photo of the woman priest made me recognise that I could also include photos of older women and disabled people amongst my website headers, so I spent a very happy hour or two on this task. Until today, my thinking had always been so blinkered that it had never occurred to me to do this.
Right now, I feel my diagnosis of Autonomic Neuropathy is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has made me realise that I’ve only got one life here, and that it might be a lot shorter, more limited, and more unpleasant than I had previously imagined. So, as my heath and mobility deteriorate, I want to make the most of whatever freedom and independence I have, at each stage of this disorder.
However, I’m not thinking of the conventional “bucket list” of places I want to go to, or things I want to do before I die. Rather, I’m already experiencing a deep, joyful sense of inner freedom to be myself. This gives me space and permission to think what I think, believe what I believe, feel how I feel, and be how I am. I am also working on my outward freedom, by speaking the truth in love, and taking pleasure in doing what I still can, however limited this may be.
I’m sharing all this with you because as I deteriorate, I will probably need to change my approach to blogging. This might mean expending less energy on formal, disciplined poetic structures, instead describing whatever spiritual insights God gives me in simpler, more direct prose.
Meanwhile, I’m feeling optimistic, the future looks exciting, and I will continue to post here each day for as long as I can.
✝️ My greetings to every follower and visitor to this website. I appreciate every one of you, and pray for you all each day.
With love and blessings, from Ruth xxxx
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).
No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave (Psalm 89:48; NLT).
Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).
Truly, O God of Israel, our Saviour, you work in mysterious ways (Isaiah 45:15; NIV).
We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28; GNT).
Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognised him (Luke 24:31; NLT).
God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27; NLT).
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NIV).
The Almighty … blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and the womb (Genesis 49:5; NIV).
“As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our mother” (Revelations of Divine Love, Chapter 59, Julian of Norwich).
You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32; NLT).
If the Son sets you free, you are truly free (John 8:36; NLT).
When you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go (John 21:18; NLT).
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).
We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).
God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:24; NIV).
You desire honesty from the womb (Psalm 51:6; NLT).
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10; NIV).
Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts (Psalm 90:12; CSB).