(Note: the Spanish translation will come this Sunday in a separate “page” titled, “Giros, vueltas y sueños”. —-> La traducción en español aparecerá en una página separada, a la derecha de este blog en inglés y titulada, ‘Giros, vueltas y sueños’.)
I suspect that if God led me to write these blogs, this one will be the most important in the sense that it will prove to the reader a few things:
1. God has a particular plan for each of us because we are not copies but originals with a special print in our fingers and in the magnetic field of the electricity that runs our body. Amazing uniqueness… So, this plan for each of us He handles it with certain turns to the right or left (T) via His Holy Spirit.
2. He also equips us (E) with a particular family and education and geographical places that we have to go to in this road to Emmaus of each of our lives, and as He accompanies us, sometimes with us not recognizing that He is fully present and next to us, and sometimes just looking back and making a list, like I am doing today, of each moment that revealed His presence in our life but that we may not have recognized at the time!
(T) and (E) will mark different events accordingly.
Therefore, after reading this message, any person who does not even believe in Him will have to conclude that the following stories can only be understood under the light of the supernatural…. This post will be long… but you have an entire week to read it. Sorry, and that is why I will not write another until 8 days from now… I actually prayed a lot hoping I did not have to reveal so many details, and the more I did, the more I became convicted that anything that reveals His glory in our lives must be shown to others as an example of His crazy love, His mercy…At the end I will tell you about my dreams… So, here we go…
Family: (E) I was an only child to my mother. My maternal Grandma was my main caregiver and gave me profound love… I was born when she was only 38 years old and I was her only grandchild for 18 years… This woman was a very religious lady… I remember her often saying these one-liners: a) “Wasted time even the Saints cry about it.” b) “Never leave for tomorrow what it can be done today.” She would get up around 4:30 AM every day to pray the Rosary. I remember waking up and seeing her example of the time given to God.
There is no doubt that God provided a solid formation. I remember vividly visiting my Grandma’s father and sisters home, and how they would take turns reading excerpts of the life of St. Teresa of Avila everyday at the main meal (lunch for us in Latin America). I grew up thinking that Saints were my friends and angels my pals! And I still do! Also, my maternal and paternal roots were graced with very well known novelists, poets, musicians of sacred music, composers and sculptors of religious art. I wrote a lot of poetry as a young woman, (E) and this background helps me now to write with ease.
TWISTS AND TURNS:
1. My understanding of Jesus as present in the Eucharist when I was just over 6 years old and this great love for Him that dominated me since then, was an encounter with Him that in retrospect showered me with graces for all my sudden turns and decisions.
(T) As some of you know, I “demanded” to be in this particular boarding school for my first grade, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, and where I then was taught about her love for His Sacred Heart. My call was to sleep and be close to Him because I loved Him sooo much (E)… I still remember! How to explain this love? There are not words adequate to do it…
2. (E) You also know that I attended night school and became a secretary by age 11 enabling me to write all these blogs very fast …!!! It also enormously helped me to shine during my medical studies because I typed my papers with ease and not depending on anyone to do it for me.
3. (E) I was taught English from first to third grade and then I moved to the public school system. For my 7th grade, I attended Lincoln High School, a private school and an expensive endeavor that we hardly were able to afford… This served me in order to be chosen as an exchange student to come to the U.S. and years later as well, to study the latest American medical texts, which as yet did not exist in Spanish.
4. I became a physician in a foreign medical school (my country had not med school at the time) with high honors, which helped me not to pay tuition… During my medical studies I remember clearly about my love for Him… We lived in a small apartment in a well-to-do area, although we were not rich at all, but I would not attend Sunday Mass with the rich at the nearby Christ the King parish. Instead, I would go with the poor, at St. Don Bosco Church! All throughout, my love for this God/Man was kept intact and magic and I basically never worked hard at it… It was His mercy… He had a plan, as He has for each of us…
5. (T) After graduation, I accepted a position as intern in a local hospital of this foreign country but just one week before starting, I woke up one day and knew I had to move to my home country… To the astonishment of many, especially my professors and classmates, I resigned the position and I moved to the capital city where I had been born. I had to take and pass a test in order to be able to start my internship… My father helped me with monies to survive this time of preparation for the test and I passed it. I started my internship doing “straight medicine,” that is, rotating only in the medical wards because I wanted to be a cardiologist… I hated the operating room atmosphere with passion…
6. In the mean time I knew I wanted to be trained in cardiology in the US and again, I had to take another test in English at the American Embassy to be able to do so… It was a very difficult one which I passed without problems… Once more, English was of great help…. However, this “turn” at the last minute that brought me to my own country of origin was essential in order to process my “green card”, versus coming with a student’s visa just for training and having at the end to return to my country. Besides, I could not have processed the green card from the foreign country where I had studied medicine… God knew it. I simply had not thought about it.
But in order to process the green card, I needed a job in “X” hospital and applied to 5 different hospitals in MI, PA and NJ. . (T) Then, I made a deal with my Lord that I would choose whatever hospital would answer first if any… The one in Detroit did but all five accepted me. It is today that I realized that Detroit’s Cathedral is dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament or to the Eucharistic Jesus! Huh! I found in this hospital my husband to be and who was a resident in Pathology.
7. I arrived in the U.S. on a July and that October I applied in the same hospital for a residency position in Internal Medicine in order to eventually do my specialization in cardiology. The residencies are assigned by the following January through at matching program for the whole country. I got the residency spot and it would start in July… Yet, in May I woke up one day to know that I had to become an anesthesiologist… (T) I resigned the position, again to the amazement of many and very unusual for someone like me because I am a perfectionist, always on time and always very responsible. Then the problem was that I could not find anywhere a residency in Anesthesiology … Yet, a Jewish hospital next door and still in Detroit created a residency for me… I am sure that my Lord was into it and big time… I had a wonderful chief of the department, a Jewish anesthesiologist who sat with me for weeks to train me in the art… It is interesting that some 6 years ago, I learned that the mother of my paternal great grandfather was a Sephardic Jew.
This turn provided a “hospital based” practice, and so important in order to move with my family as needed, and it did happen many times because my husband’s pathology job needs dictated it… With a practice in cardiology, I could not have done so. Since then, I never recall hating the operating room… I also never remember wanting to be a cardiologist ever again. If I had to choose Anesthesiology all over, I would…
8. I was offered to stay in this Jewish hospital as a staff member. I declined. Why? I have no idea… I am sure that the Holy Ghost was mediating this decision. I found a job, which two years later produced this quarter of a million dollars a year. I was there for 5 years as my husband’s jobs in pathology were poorly paid and scarce… Finally, he found one near Ann Arbor. I left all the money behind and moved the family there. By now, we had Mercedes Benz cars and later a Cadillac. I had studied interior decoration and had a home in a luxurious neighborhood in the suburbs of Detroit. I left it all and moved to the same little hospital where he was chief of the pathology department. I made $15,000 in the first six months. So, for obvious reasons, I had to move to teach at their next door famous university. Within one year, my husband prevailed with the idea of returning back home, but to my country of origin, not his in the Caribbean, in order to give back to them what we knew…
I decided to move up the First Holy Communion of my second son, so that he did not have to end up receiving instruction in Spanish, which he hardly knew, for this great encounter with Jesus. Because of it, I met this great nun, Sister Mary Faith who was the Director of Religious Education of my parish. Based on the way I talked about the Eucharist, she thought I was a member of the Word of God Community (Pentecostal Catholic Movement) in Ann Arbor… Soon after, she introduced me to the 500 member prayer group (one of three) that would weekly get together and I was “baptized in the Holy Ghost” on May 19, 1977 (Re-affirmation of my Confirmation). In hindsight, I had moved to Ann Arbor in order to encounter the Third Person of the Trinity in a personal way… It was after this that the author of the Bible (H.S.) made me fall in love with the written Word of God… (E)
9. (T) We finally moved to my home country, only to come back to the U.S 18 months later. Socialized medicine was not what we thought. When you take the money aspect out of it, doctors do not excel in their practices as much … They see a stipulated or required number of non emergency patients per day and then go home… In order to see a physician, patients have to wait some 2-3 months…In general the treatment of the sick was inferior, at least according to my standard of care. I found out how doctors would see patients in private practice and without waiting for so long, but the cost was out of pocket. At the end, the richer did better than the plain worker. And this is probably what socialized medicine means all over the world and not this perfect solution that we think it is.
10. (T) So God brought us back to Ann Arbor and jobs in pathology were again very scarce. Therefore, my husband decided to get training in another specialty and chose to apply for a residency in Anesthesia… and got it in a very good university in Northern Ohio. I found work at a nearby major famous Clinic. As we looked for a home, I ended up contacting via phone(by the mercy of God…!!) a real estate woman and she was Catholic and a parishioner of a Jesuit parish. She found us a home within this parish and near the rapid transit transportation system in order for my older 2 boys to attend in the following years, a far away but excellent Jesuit high school … Eventually, I was invited to move to reorganize the anesthesia department of another hospital in the same city. An again, in this latter place, a quarter of a million dollars/year came to my pocket.
However, some 2.5 years later, Satan struck and my bosses, male and female physicians, terminated my contract for no good reason. Many of the nurse anesthetists and some anesthesiologists thought I would take them to the Court system… I knew that my Lord was against it… In fact, to this date, I have not hated or resented them at all for even one second. Grace was abundant. In hindsight, it amazes me how God allowed these difficulties for my own walk to Calvary, and therefore, He provided me with patience, tolerance and lack of resentment. My attitude touched them very deeply and months later, one of them apologized to my husband for the injustice. I stayed home for one year to let them cool off so that I would not be poorly recommended for another job…
It was during this year that I understood my call to contemplate the mercy of God and I sensed the need to write a book on the subject… (E) I had been equipped with a major cross since my salary was very important for our household. My husband was an anesthesiologist by now but working with an HMO and with a very low salary. I had finally experienced persecution as Jesus talked about it and yet, this year off gave me plenty of time to savor the writings of Catholic saints and mystics like St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and other Carmelite saints.
11. (T) After this year off, I went to practice at a small Catholic Hospital in Indiana . It so happened that this hospital was one of the 17 chosen by Joint Commission in the whole U.S.A. and the only one in Indiana, in order to implement the new “agenda for change.” Joint Commission is an association that reviews hospital policies, procedures, and their implementation in order to avoid medical errors; they in turn, give hospitals what we call “accreditation” (E). The Lord was equipping me big time… as you shall see.
12. Three years into this practice in Indiana, I traveled to Houston, TX for a medical conference… I always read the Gideon’s Bible when staying in hotels and in this particular Thursday May 4, 1989, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus to heaven, a day that I had attended Mass since it was required of us in those days, I found the third chapter of Joshua to be a summons. There, Joshua crossed with Israel the parted Jordan River in order to enter the Promised Land, and I heard a word of knowledge… that we would be offered jobs for both of us upon my arrival to Indiana and to follow the call.
It was so. On this Sunday evening of May 7 and just hours after my arrival from TX, we received the call from the HMO in Ohio where my husband had worked (and in the very same city, which I had left because of the major professional persecution suffered), and they offered us jobs: I, as the chief of the department because of my longer years in the specialty. My husband would be a regular anesthesiologist with them as before… The offer was huge. We moved. (T) This allowed my younger set of boys to attend the same schools of their older brothers, the same Jesuit high school.
13. Just two months later in the new job, my experience of coming from one of “the famous 17 hospitals of the agenda for change,” permitted this hospital to be accredited although nothing had been done prior to my arrival. Joint Commission felt that since I knew this agenda for change, still new in most places, I could implement it and gave us a pass. This marked another important moment for my experience with this accrediting organization as you shall see (E). The new department was in shambles. I found three anesthesiologists who had no idea of the art of anesthesia. I was able to obtain from a local university anesthesia department to take them for a refresher course of 3 months each. They refused. So, I also refused to continue being the chief of the department where patients were not given the best and “safest” care possible and despite that the HMO offered me more money to stay!
14. I looked for another job and found it as assistant professor of anesthesia in this well known University where my husband had trained… Yet, a major persecution ensued. The foreign female physician acting as chief of the small hospital in Indiana gave a terrible report to this University. According to her, I was supposed to be the worse anesthesiologist and unable to get along with others. It was this major famous Clinic in this city where I had worked before, which convinced this University’s legal department that this was an error since with them I had practiced above average and had gotten along with everyone. But because this account from Indiana had been sent to them, they agreed not to report me to the National Physician Data Bank in D.C. but could not give me the job… That same year, the Federal Government had established this data bank to keep track of poorly trained physicians.
It cost me $5,000 in legal fees and after three months of back and forth talks before this deal, the Holy Spirit was the one who gave me the wisdom (as promised by Jesus Himself) to tell my wonderful Christian lawyer (very religious) how to “force” the legal department headed by a Catholic ex-judge to agree to these terms…I lived His Word… He will give us the words to defend us in front of judges when unjustly persecuted… Huh! Yet, the cross was heavy… but He was walking next to me. Had I being reported to the National Data Bank, even with a lie, I would not have found a job ever!!! Who wants to employ a dangerous anesthesiologist? This woman who lied never became a cause of resentment for me… Grace was abundant… Amazing. This is the freedom that Christ offers… and that no one else can give us.
15. Jobs were scarce in anesthesia in the mid 1990’s, and therefore, I had to travel away to temporary jobs to Indiana and Michigan. Because of it, someone introduced me to “barley grass”… a wonderful natural product that gives energy and is the best detoxifier for our bodies, according to a Japanese scientist, Doctor Hagiwara… My love for Naturopathic Medicine had started and that would take me to discover sources for depression and memory loss for my own life… Huh!
16. (T) Eventually I found a permanent job in the last city where I lived for 10 years before coming to retire here some 6 months ago. Had I become assistant professor, I would have missed this last appointment, one of the most important ones in my life time, and one that would prepare me with much prayer united to suffering, for this moment of telling the world in the most public way, all about His love and mercy in my life.
So, I started the new position in this large and great hospital but which I had to eventually leave because of the abortion on demand issue. For the following 12 months I couldn’t find jobs any place in the States where I had a license to practice medicine and as my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Then, a job of director of a surgery center became available right at the same city where I was living… and they gave me the position instantaneously because of my “experience” with Joint Commission… God made sure with twists and turns that I would not be able to leave this assigned city before its time.
And why was this last assignment the most important? Because this time I could have said “no” on my own to the last 5 years when I did not have a permanent job. It did not depend on other people’s will imposed on me like with jobs. He was waiting to see me take charge of this “yes” to His will and pursuit it with “gusto” even when I was totally wondering the reason for it, and doing it just to honor Him and to tell Him how much I trusted His mercy. Other moves He had orchestrated. But in this one, He showed me His will for later but allowed me to decide if I would submit letter by letter to it, that is, of walking on water while looking at His Countenance with a profound yes to wait, even that many voices around were testing me with disappointment and lack of support. It was graduation time… I had to walk the talk…
So, look at the sequence: the Lord prepared me with my first persecution that took me to “one of the 17 hospitals.” Then, I was directed in Texas through the Word of God to accept the job in this HMO hospital to become more experienced with Joint Commission to help me for getting my last job… but in the city where later I would suffer the second persecution so that I would never miss my call to the appointed last city and in order to graduate…! Had this big sign not been given in Texas with the announcement of the future jobs, we would have never even considered the move again. The Lord knows when we need signs and wonders! Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!
This time, God allowed me to pass this surgery center and get accredited with the highest percentage ever in the US for a surgery center, 98%. Shortly after, the main shareholder and co-owner of this health care center with a Catholic hospital, left and the latter took charge and let me go because I was too expensive (money wise). This led me to “walk on water for 5 years,” without a job and paying high bills. I took temporary jobs of one month each (2005 and 2006) that could have become permanent but far from this famous last city… In the two occasions, circumstances blocked my staying there, even that both groups had given me the job. One of the groups suddenly retrieved the offer… despite that they had told me just 2 days before that I was very good at what I did… I would have become the chief of surgery for their group at a surgery center belonging to the same small Catholic hospital in Indiana where my female physician persecutor still lived but not practiced there… They knew all about her and how difficult she was… So, why did they change their minds? No doubt that God was orchestrating this whole thing…
The second job, one year later, was not the type of practice that would fit my standard of practice… My salary would have been $25,000/month, but my Lord gave me the freedom to choose. I chose what would be right in His eyes… Two years later and when the time of the will of God came to move here, I placed my house in the market and sold in four months, escaping this economic crisis and selling right away among other 7 homes in the same block, and some had been on the market for more than a year! Of course, it was the perfect home for a younger man who had suffered a stroke and needed a home with wide halls to maneuver his wheel chair… It was all planned from heaven for them and me… They were very religious Methodist’s.
Besides, I wrote a book on Divine Mercy during my 5 years of walking on water. I spent many hours in front of His Eucharistic Presence. These five years were necessary to re-enforce my relationship with this God whom I had met at a small age, by saying “yes” to a situation that was unusual, and so much so, that required total trust in His mercy or “faith without fear.” I was recharging my spiritual engine with a yes to this cross that I could have changed any time I had wanted, and sell the house 3 years earlier, before the real estate housing debacle. But my Lord was not done: the day I closed the sale of my home, my last persecution had started… Someone accused me to the State Medical Board that I had an alias and had tried to kill the accuser, and this did not come from a colleague of mine…Yet, the accuser gave the wrong name and address to this Board and I was exonerated. Jesus announced to us that this would be part of following Him, and I felt actually grateful… By now, I had become wise in the subject of crosses…
Of course, by this point, I simply feel that these horrible persecutions, professional and from other people, were temptations from Satan to many in order to destroy this moment where I have to shout from the house tops and through this long blog, that God exists and that He is alive. He is crazy about us. Yet, any hatred and/or resentment would have hardened my heart and I would have lost His Presence, but His mercy liberated me of any bad feelings toward my persecutors. Besides, through these heavy crosses I became totally detached from money (and fat salaries), luxury, possessions of any kind including from my own life, and for many years, some 10 plus, I do not even know anymore what loneliness is all about…
I am sure that you are exhausted of these many stories, just as I am, and in my case especially because they remind me of the darkness that I have lived from other human beings. Yet, it offers a peek into His mercy in my life. To close I must say that I have lived these many instances of His mercy with many turns and equipping events because they were essential in order to fall more and more in love with this God/Man. Discipleship when lived according to His stipulations, it is a life transforming instrument to enter deeper into the intimacy of His love and mercy for us. If we “try” to do our part, He overwhelms us with His tenderness and care as a mother would feel for her baby.
Corollary: You have read about the many life changing turns I have made. I have experienced the blessing of not resenting persecutors or registering loneliness (in the latter years). These stories can demonstrate how He has been my Shepherd and that although under periods of grave persecution, I was not in want of anything! Therefore, now I try my best not to even suggest to God what I want. His will has been soo perfect, so life giving, so transforming, that I know that whatever He wants, any mixture of crosses and blessings, is the most perfect plan for me. It does not take much intelligence to realize that.
“To do Your will is my delight; my God, Your law is in my heart! I announced Your deed to a great assembly; I did not restrain my lips; You, Lord, are my witness.” Psalm 40: 9-10
But anyone would argue, “Well, this is in your case. You worked hard at it all your life.” I would answer the following: these stories no doubt that are tied up with my encounter with Him as a child because every turn and decision was showered by His mercy and I hardly worked too hard at it. In fact, these last five years in my previous place of residence were dark in many angles and the hardest part was to keep believing (trusting – faith without fear) two things: that human beings could make mistakes and my work was to love them regardless (words of My Master), and that God has loved me sooo much that He could not change this pattern just for these years. The moment I chose that road of “love”, obeying His will plus loving my neighbor, His mercy kicked in as if by magic… Well, His magic is grace. This grace/mercy sits at the door of ALL our hearts waiting again for our unconditional “yes”. Isn’t this what the Bible teaches and that Jesus came to model?
Yet, this encounter with Him is available anytime, anywhere and to anyone. Otherwise, He would not be a just God. I was just called by name to receive it as a child. There is only one key to enter into this relationship: saying yes to grace (by saying yes to His will) that waits to help us to live as disciples and with a full desire for self-denial, embracing our crosses as they come, and doing what He did, because His road takes us to our own perfect death of self-will and resurrection, which means peace, joy, forgiveness for others, lack of loneliness. If we fight His will, we are fighting our “resurrection” on this earth. We are renouncing to be free… Free at last!
And here are my dreams… I have a dream that someday we Christians go to the Scriptures, get the information or map and “try” to live it; then go to the Sacraments and with proper preparation receive them, and all this united to constant prayer in order to be equipped to voluntarily say yes to every present moment without being carried kicking or screaming and whether the moment is full of anguish, illness, fear, poverty or disillusion with the lives of others around including governments. I have a dream that no Church’s human behavior of any kind may interfere in our “resurrection”.
I have a dream that one day we all gather in churches as one Body of Christ and worship together. I have a dream that one day we see all children in all stages of development and say with Jesus, “Let the children come to me (let them live) because to them it belongs the Kingdom of heaven.” I have a dream that when the time comes and I enter a hospital for the treatment of a fatal illness, I may be treated not like one who is wasting health insurance money, but as an image of God. I have a dream…
I have a dream that one day we all Christians “desire” to follow Jesus’ life in order to have His mercy drop over us like the rain in the spring to make flourish the seed of our lives. I have a dream that one day we keep looking only at Him as we “walk on water,” as we fulfill His will that it is sometimes challenging, and never keep looking back or to the future or at others, in regards to how fast or slow they are walking to Emmaus, or doubt like Peter that with Him all things are possible… And I must reiterate that all things are possible for God and to those who believe and not just some things or most things. So it is possible to fulfill all these dreams…
I have a dream that one day we finally get it and know that He is waiting for us to go meet Him in a personal way, and for my Catholic comrades, He is totally present in the Tabernacle as 2,000 years ago. I have a dream that one day and because we seek His will with great determination, desire and care, we may not miss any visitation He carries out through other people, events, circumstances, crosses, etc. I have a dream that one day we stop wondering about what could the future bring and we all may chant with St. Teresa Benedicta de la Croce (Edith Stein) her prayer that says, “Lord we do not want to know your ways since we are Your children. You are a Father of wisdom and a Father also to us. If you lead us through the darkness of night, we know You are taking us to Yourself.” And I have a dream that we all respond, “Amen” or “so be it.”
It was reported today that good students in high school will send an average of 35,000 text messages a year PER STUDENT!. They text message in the classroom… and just as they wake up and before they go to bed. This insanity of our present generation reflects ours… Sorry! Who is responsible for it? Each one of us is… These kids are filling up an inner void they have for God… but do not know it! I can only say again that upon meeting Him by grace as a child, He has always filled that void even when I was not aware of it.
But I have another huge dream that soon… a bunch of us will address this malady with seriousness and believe in the power of our prayer, and in the power of our ongoing conversion in order to become His disciples and to be sent to give witness of His majesty and His love and mercy… Let’s dream together and let’s pray together with our lips, hearts and also with our actions, and let’s text message Jesus all day with our love. He is good at answering à I now realize that by having encountered His love at age 6, I kept loving Him without knowing it, or said in other words, I kept text-messaging Him and He answered with signs and wonders, turns and twists and more love than I could have ever dreamed of.
Then, one day we will say, “Our dream is over because we are ‘Free at last, free at last…’ ” Thanks be to God for sending His only begotten Son to rescue us and to stay with us while we fulfill these dreams.