I Find God in All Things These Days

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by Sandy Yates

Ignatian Spirituality came to me by way of the IVC.  I was mired in the depths of a deep and dark depression.  My 27 year old son had died three years previously and I was stuck in a prolonged period of grief.  Having retired from a twenty-eight year career in nursing, I had little to do to occupy my time and mind.  My friends and family encouraged me to be active, get motivated; but I suffered from a tremendous ennui.

The memory I have of the day that I did something about it is crystal clear.  I was surfing the net and decided to Google, “volunteer opportunities.”  I inquired about several, but nothing held any appeal.  Then I came upon a request for IVC volunteers.  A lifelong devout Catholic, I had fallen away from the church in my present state of desolation.  The spiritual component of IVC was compelling and I was attracted to the type of work offered.

My education was secular and my introduction to Ignatian Spirituality was at the first meeting in September.  I was immediately drawn to the core beliefs.  I read James Martins, A Jesuit’s Guide to Almost Everything and I was hooked.  I went on to read Bill Barrry, Mark Thibidoux, Mitch Pacqua, Henri Noewen, and James Martin’s entire oeuvre.  I am currently making the Spiritual Exercises nineteenth annotation.  My life has been completely transformed.  I remember that day, surfing the net so clearly, because I now have a visual of Jesus, as the Good Shepard, reaching out his staff and corralling his lost sheep back into His fold.

You see, my son, Christopher, had died of a traumatic brain injury.  But he did not succumb right away.  He languished for fifteen months in a state of near paralysis and indignity: with pain and frustration.  He was cognizant, but unable to move purposefully or communicate in meaningful way.  He died at 7:30 PM on Holy Saturday in 2011.  Not a coincidence, given that his birthday was Christmas Eve.  His name means Christ bearer, and I find God in all these things.  I find God in all things these days.

I find God in the strength He gave me to care for Christopher, to be his advocate and to bear the suffering without succumbing to despair. I see God in the cadre of friends and family who lifted us up in prayer and deed throughout our journey.  I see God in all the medical personnel who helped us care for Christopher during that difficult time.  Before my introduction to Ignatian Spirituality, I cursed that time of suffering as cruel and unfair.  Now I see Jesus weeping with me at Christopher’s bedside.  When praying about my feelings I heard Matthew 28:20 “Know that I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” God was indeed with me through my darkest hours.

Jesus brought me to the IVC and thus to Ignatian Spirituality when I was at my most dispirited and desperately in need; to the point of saving my very life.  Now I am praying contemplatively, seeing God in all things, thinking of Jesus as my friend, and resting joyfully in God’s loving embrace.

 

Sandy Yates is a retired RN from Rhode Island.  She is a volunteer at Genesis Center in Providence, an adult education facility that teaches ESOL, job training, citizenship study, financial literacy, and more!  She has two daughters who are also nurses, and lives with her husband of 34 years in Warwick, RI.

24 Responses to “I Find God in All Things These Days”

  1. Dave Hinchen

    Sandy, you are such a gift to us all! Thanks for sharing your story with the whole IVC community and helping us be more aware of where God is present in our lives.

    Reply
    • Sandy

      Thanks for spreading the word Dave. I am glad for the opportunity to tell everyone how much the IVC means to me.

      Reply
  2. Ann Bersani

    Sandy;

    I was moved by your story on your first day at the IVC-and am even more moved by this telling of the story! You are a gift to IVC and your agency and I am glad to be your friend.

    Ann

    Reply
  3. Si Smith, SJ

    Brilliant! We are humbled by your faith and your experience. Thanks for sharing both. Si

    Reply
    • Sandy

      Thank you for taking the time to read and respond. I look forward to seeing you soon.

      Reply
  4. Susan Carsello

    Oh Sandy, I read your beautiful article and was so moved. What a gift you have given to us by joining IVC and what a gift you are giving to your service sight. My son, Steven, suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was 19. He fell off of a jet ski and was hit in the head by another jet ski driver who did not see him. It was a terrible time so I can understand some of your pain. He recovered and we count our blessings every day. I am so very deeply sorry for your loss. May God bless you and your family always.

    Reply
    • Sandy

      Susan, I’m so glad to hear that your son recovered. I know well how hard the journey was. Thank you for writing.

      Reply
  5. Kathy Simisky

    Hi Sandy!
    I was so moved by your story!
    How the beautiful Good Shepherd, Jesus was
    With you during your suffering for Christopher!
    You like Mary were at the foot of the Cross!
    God Bless, you Sandy! You are a beautiful Christ-like
    Presence to all of us!
    Christ’s Peace!
    Kathy Simisky

    Reply
  6. madeleine kirk

    Welcome to IVC!! This is really the place where you can heal as you heal others. God bless you!!

    Reply
  7. madeleine kirk

    IVC IS THE PLACE FOR YOU NOW AS YOU HEAL AND HELP OTHERS TO HEAL. GOD BLESS YOU.

    Reply
  8. Judith

    Thank you. Loss and guilt with respect to my husband’s death haunts me although, I too, have the benefit of being introduce to Ignatian Spirituality. Your story is a reminder and a comfort. Thank you

    Reply
    • Sandy

      I hope your work with IVC and the comfort of practicing the core beliefs of Ignatian spirituality can bring you peace.

      Reply
  9. Tom

    Sandy, you told me your story the first day you started IVC and I was touched then, and even more so now, by what a wonderful person you are. IVC is lucky to have someone with your character and spiritual strength.

    You are a credit to IVC.

    Reply
  10. Abina Hansen

    Thank you, Sandy, for sharing your very moving personal story. I have only known you for a few months through the IVC-NE Regional Council and would have never guessed that you suffered such a personal loss, because what I have experienced is your light, your energy and your willingness to serve. Thank you for witnessing to what the Lord has done for you through IVC and Ignatian Spirituality.

    Reply
  11. Pequitte

    I can hardly express how meaningful your sharing was. What a gift this son was to you despite the suffering he and you endured. It’s hard to feel gratitude sometimes when the days are dark and the journey is tough. I am so grateful that you found IVC as a stepping stone to further grace. Welcome to the IVC circle, may your journey through the 19th annotation be filled with joy, and may god Bless you always. Thank you so much for the courage to share.

    Reply
  12. Carol Armstrong

    Sandy, I’m so moved by your personal journey, beautifully expressed.

    Carol

    Reply
  13. Susan Yates Gaston

    By way of introduction Sandy is my sister-in-law and her wonderful full of life son Christopher, my nephew. I watched the suffering that Christopher endured both close-up and from a distance. I also saw the anguish and despair of my brother Joe, Sandy, and their daughters as they they supported Christopher during his ordeal. Christopher never spent a day alone on that journey. It is a testament to the entire Yates Family that they weathered this terrible storm. I know Sandy was spiritually adrift for a long time and when the moment was right God touched her heart and guided her to her spiritual re-birth. Thank you God for that blessing and thank you Sandy for all the wonderful work you are doing at Genesis House. Love Susan

    Reply
  14. Marcel Viens, IVC Los Angeles

    Sandy, you are indeed an amazing gift. May God continue to bless you and all the lives you touch. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  15. Mary Beth O'Sullivan

    Sandy
    Your courage in sharing your journey verbally and now in print is amazing. You are one of the treasures of the New England IVC.
    With gratitude, Mary Beth

    Reply

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