Setting a sacred intention

31 Dec

This month I have worked on setting a sacred intention to mark the transitions in my day. Our house has been filled with a tremendous amount of activity and emotion. With family and friends coming and going and so much to do as we wrestle with the practical aspects of life it is very easy to simply float from one moment to the next.

My favorite example of setting a sacred intention is with our son Jack. There are so many moments in every day where I interact with Jack with a purpose in mind: get dressed, eat what was served, put away toys, make it to the potty in time, and go to sleep without a fuss. Those are all valid goals and I think that when they are met it reveals an underlying calmness and attention that is ultimately part of how we love Jack. They are not, however, sacred intentions. I never realized that until we visited with Paula Rauch. Dr. Rauch is the founder and director of P.A.C.T. (Parenting At a Challenging Time) at Massachusetts General Hospital and she offered us valuable guidance on helping shape the narrative that Jack is already creating as he makes sense of the changes in his world since his mom began this journey. The prominent theme to the narrative she wanted us to write for Jack was that he was loved and he was safe. How beautiful and how simple, but how easily forgotten. It occurred to me that this was not only how we want Jack to feel when we are talking about Kim’s experience with ALS but in every interaction. When I get Jack dressed in the morning and he wants the t-shirt instead of the sweater I don’t just want him to do what I say – I want him to know that when he goes outside the cold air will hurt his skin in the winter if he doesn’t wear warm clothes and that I am doing this to keep him safe because I love him. I found an example like that for everything we do together and even though I don’t always say it out loud to him it colors our entire relationship now. My sacred intention with Jack is not just to keep him safe and love him, but to help him know that he is safe and loved.

Of course I also want to embrace a sacred intention for each moment I spend with Kim and the busier our lives become the more important it is. There are so many things to do now, where before there was empty space. I thought I was busy leading up to the changes in our lives, but now I realize how much time I had that was my own and with so many daily tasks to accomplish that range from preparing food to processing insurance claims (and all the normal aspects of life in between) it is easy to get lost in a life of nothing more than checking items off a to do list. There are loving, sacred intentions to be discovered in even the most mundane action. I do not make the bed, set up the pillows, clean the bedroom because they should be done – I do them because I intend to create a peaceful and healthy environment for Kim and I to rest. When Kim needs help picking something up I don’t just want her to have the thing she is asking for – it is my intention that I find a way to help her that preserves her independence and dignity while helping her feel safe and loved. Taking the time to pause, reflect and set that intention breathes a spiritual life into our days that is needed now more than ever – but was always needed.

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8 Responses to “Setting a sacred intention”

  1. Pat Tempesta December 31, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    Always the teacher Kim… always the teacher, and it is no surprise that you married a teacher! Thank you both for sharing your journey with us. Loved seeing you this holiday season, meeting John and Jack, and having a little time to catch up. We send strength and love your way and many many blessings.

  2. Holly enichen December 31, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Kim and John, If ever there were two in love getting the most out of life it is you two. Jack is going to be one amazing kid with you two for parents.

  3. Suzanne Alexander January 1, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Dear Kim and John – I don’t know you – but my husband was diagnosed in June with ALS. We also have young kids. We gain our strength by watching others’ journies and picking out ideas that will build our reserves and shed productive light on the path before us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this public blog….it is a great help to those who love you I’m sure, and even to those you haven’t met. You are doing this with grace….we are privileged to participate with you. Suzanne Alexander, Pittsburgh, PA

    • Kim and John January 2, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

      Suzanne – I’m so sorry to hear of your husbands diagnosis. Thank you for the kind note – if we can ever be helpful don’t hesitate to ask. Paula Rauch wrote a book titled, Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child When a Parent is Sick and I highly recommend it.

      • Suzanne Alexander January 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

        Just ordered it – thanks!

  4. Dana Felice-Podwol January 1, 2012 at 8:58 am #

  5. Bonnie Devine January 4, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Kim, ever since participating in the healing ceremony at Kripalu, you have been in my thoughts. The love that is shared between you, your husband, and your very cute blond best friend (I’m assuming, from her abundant smiles and tears.) As the Bliss grew, so did your fight to hold together as “normal” a life as possible. (Of course, most unfortunate folks already think we’re abnormal because we participate in such “woo-woo” activities!) Until you gave me your blog address, I was unaware of your illness. Being a half-full kind of person, I hoped there had been some kind of accident and you were in the theraputic stage on your way back to being fully healed..With the knowledge of your life’s challenge I was filled with so many emotions, the most prominent, that I would keep you in my heart.

    Being with you was a priviledge of giagantic proportion. I hope that we meet again, and I am honored to keep in touch by blogging with you.

    All my love, Bonnie

  6. Robyne Stevenson January 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    A beautiful and inspiring sentiment. It’s action we all can take. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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