The gift of crisis
“You have been offered the gift of crisis. As Kathleen Norris reminds us, the Greek root of the word crisis is “to sift,” as in to shake out the excesses and leave only what’s important. That’s what crises do. They shake things up until we are forced to hold on to only what matters most.” — Glennon Doyle Melton
Probably the only person I know who comes close to really understanding what Matt’s life has been like so far, is my sister Carla. Like Matt, she was born with a lot of medical challenges that meant she spent far too much of her childhood in hospitals. As if all that were not enough, as a young girl she was severely injured in the automobile accident that almost took our mother’s life, which resulted in more surgery and hospital time.
I can say in all honesty, though, that I’ve never detected the slightest bit of self-pity on her part about all she has suffered. Instead, I remember her telling me about the friends she made in the hospital, the doctors and nurses and fellow patients she described, how she loved the many cards people sent her, and how I always missed her patient and cheerful spirit when she was not at home with us.
It’s no coincidence that Aunt Carla has a particularly close bond with Matt. She’s the one who came to stay with him during Jeff’s long hospitalization recently, and the one who also was here with us for Matt’s own recent cardiac hospitalization last October. She and Matt share a lot of inside jokes, a love of the Pink Panther movies, Monty Python’s Holy Grail and similar zany humor, and so many silly giggles that I have occasionally been known to tell them both to STIFLE IT!!!
But what she and Matt share most is an understanding of what really matters; an intuitive sense that eludes most of us who get in a tizzy about things that are relatively unimportant. As Melton says, crisis sifts out the empty fluff and leaves behind the essentials that enrich life most — and, obviously, that includes love, loyalty and a lot of laughter.
Have you ever been offered the gift of crisis? If you’re like me, you’d do your best to politely decline it. But that’s usually not an option. What, then, has it taught you? What got sifted out, and what remains?