Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will come often. It is my hope that these stories and reflections will be helpful in your spiritual journey. I look forward to your thoughts, questions, or suggestions. Please leave your comments and join as a follower so I will know you were here. It is a privilege to share the journey with you.

If you wish to know more about me, spiritual direction or retreats visit my website. www.bunnycox.com. Blessings, Bunny

*See first posting in January, 2011 to learn why this blog is called "From the Big Red Chair."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Journey of the Heart

I sat beside Father Mike in the overstuffed chair in his office.  I had decided to accept his invitation to come if I ever needed to talk.

“This is sacred time--your time--protect it.” he said. “Well-meaning people will try to rob you of this time by trying to make your sadness go away. Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve. Grieve the way you need to grieve, but remember,” he said, “we need to claim every little bit of healing.” I couldn’t imagine what he meant.  It had only been two weeks since my daughter Tara had died. I doubted I would ever be well again.We think of healing as complete restoration to a previous more desirable state.  I knew nothing would ever be the same now that Tara had died. 

The problem with healing is that it can be hard to recognize when we see it. Maybe doubts about the authenticity of healing have been influenced by images of television evangelists, shouting, “Heal!” inspiring the questionably lame to rise.

I suppose it would be easy enough to claim healing if a miracle occurred.  That kind of healing would be hard to miss. It’s  true Jesus raised a girl from the dead, telling her shocked family she had only been sleeping. (Matt: 9) I hardly thought that was going to happen in my case.

Father Mike saw my confusion. “Bunny, didn’t you tell me the first time you tried to go out of the house, you only made it to the mailbox before you had to turn back?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

“And didn’t you tell me the next time you tried to leave the house, you only made it around the block?”


“Well Bunny, today you’ve made it all the way to the church.” he said, slowly emphasizing each word, “And…you are wearing a red dress!”

Remember to claim every little bit of healing.

Photo by Grace Gilchrist

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares.--Henri Nouwen

Psalm 34: 18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

--Is there a place in my life that wants to be healed?

--Where can I claim a "little bit of healing?"

--Grief is about loss.  Have I known grief in my life? Who or what helped ease the pain? What is my grief like now?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Chaplains Voice

“The point for us all, perhaps, is never to give up on life and never to doubt that every bit of kindness, every tender touch we lay upon another in life can heal what might otherwise have died, certainly in them, perhaps even in ourselves.”—Joan Chittister O.S.B.

“You’ve made it,” the woman’s voice whispered. I didn’t understand. I wasn’t the one who died. My daughter had. I have no face, body, or name to associate with the voice. I was told later she was the hospital chaplain.

I don’t know how I got from the hospital lobby back to the emergency room.  I could not see.  I could not feel. Hearing was the only sense I had left. I barely felt conscious. I’ve been told that is not unusual in cases of shock, severe emotional trauma, or when we are close to our own death.  I could claim all three. It was 2 o’clock in the morning, and I had just been told, “Tara’s gone.” She was my beloved first-born, only 39, and had given birth to a baby girl only three days before.

The voice spoke again. “Bunny, you’ve made it.”  

Eyes closed, I shook my head, frowned, and tried to comprehend what she meant. 

“You’ve made it, Bunny.  You did not die. You thought you would die if you ever heard the words you just heard spoken, didn’t you?” she whispered. “You didn’t die, Bunny. It’s been five minutes.”  

She was right. I did think I would die if I lost a child. I always knew someday I would lose my parents.  That is the natural order of life.  When I married Sam and said, “Until death do us part,” I knew one of us would go first, and it might not be me, but I never expected to lose Tara. A child isn’t supposed to die before her mother.  
I could hear muffled sounds around me.  But, the only words that penetrated were the chaplain’s gentle affirmations, “You’ve made it, Bunny. It’s been ten minutes. You’ve made it, Bunny, it’s been fifteen minutes.”  Every five minutes, she counted for me, marking the miracle of my continued living and breathing.  Every five minutes she told me I had made it.  On and on she counted until I left the emergency room and perhaps until she assured herself that I would indeed live. 

Many times I have thought of the Chaplain and wondered if she knew the gift, the comfort, and the power of her words.   Sometimes I still hear her voice. She was right.  I didn't die, and on most days the greening of my soul conquers the gray of grief. But on tender days when sorrow resurfaces and tears come again, I mark time as did the Chaplain. I repeat to myself, “I’ve made it. It’s been three months. I’ve made it.  It’s been a year. I’ve made it.  It’s been seven years.”  I suspect, regardless of the years that pass, I shall be counting on the day I die. 

I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.  Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these brethren, you did it to me. –Mathew 15:35,36,40.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

"When we honestly ask ourselves which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand."   --Henri Nouwen

--As I reflect on the stages of my life, who are the people who have reached out to me when I most needed kindness or a tender touch? What was happening? Why was it important at the time? Why is it important now?

--Practice:  Make a list of people whose presence in your life have touched you in meaningful ways, perhaps a friend or family member, a teacher, a doctor, an author. . .think broadly. You may wish to keep the list for your eyes only, or if appropriate, you may wish to write a note to that person to share your observation. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Man Named Jim

Many years ago, I met a man named Jim. Our paths crossed only once, but I've never forgotten Jim or the gift he gave me. Through his words, Jim invited me to share his experience of God and took me to a hilltop where I've never actually been. That is the power of story: 

Jim's story:

One summer afternoon, while on the Isle of Iona (Scotland), I hiked to the top of Dun I (done ee), the highest ridge on the island.  The day was sunny but was cooled by a strong wind.  At the top I was pleased to find that I was alone.  I nestled into the lea of a boulder, to feel the sun more and the wind less, and began to celebrate the day by improvising on my harmonica.  In the solitude of a pause I heard a moment of music from somewhere.  I was not alone!

I got up and walked around to discover who else might be on the hilltop but saw no one.  Reassured, I returned to “my boulder” and nestled in once again.  Just as I raised the harmonica to my lips to resume playing, I heard the music again and was startled to realize that it came from my own harmonica – a breath of wind blowing through the reeds.  It was as if I were playing a duet with God.

As I now reflect on this experience, I wonder, “Are we ever alone?” and “Is not all of life a duet?”                                                                

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans: I will come to you.

Isaiah 66:14 As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.  ~Kahlil Gibran

-Is there a time when I was keenly aware of God's presence?  When?  What happened? What story would I tell?

Is there a place where I feel particularly close to God?  Is it possible to spend time there this week?  If not, is it possible to find another? 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Accepting Love

*Excerpts from Bunny’s keynote address at the inaugural gathering of The Bigger C Encouragers, a fellowship for people affected by cancer, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

During my husband Sam's treatment for cancer, we leaned on our faith and what we knew of God. We found it helpful to surround ourselves with visible reminders of God’s faithful presence.  For me, it was like putting on the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:11)

Every time Sam went in for more chemotherapy, before he climbed into the hospital bed, he hung a special cross from the I-V pole where the chemo would be placed. In the middle of dark and sometimes fearful nights, it was a reminder for both of us that Christ was in the room. 

We put a small box by his bedside and filled it with our written prayers, as a reminder to share our concerns with God. Many days I watched the chemo  drip through the clear plastic tubing that led to a port in Sam's chest. I prayed for each drop, thanking God for the chance they brought for Sam to live and to love again. We taped cards and letters to the windows and walls, surrounding ourselves with the love and well-wishes of others.

There are people in our lives who are the hands and feet of Christ--willing to carry our burdens, cares, and needs for us, to give us a break, to be the yoke, but there are subtle ways we won’t let that happen. It was during Sam’s illness that I discovered something about myself. I am much better at giving love than receiving love. 

When people asked me what they could do, or how they could help, I usually declined.  I didn’t want to be a bother, or perhaps I just didn’t want to ask for help. When a dear friend finally said, “You certainly are being selfish about this,” I was shocked.  But that’s when I learned--some days we have to receive so others can give, and in doing so we are giving. We are giving the gift of allowing them to love us.

"What a great favor God does to those He places in the company of good people." --St. Teresa of Avila

Ecclesiastes 4:9  Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.  For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. 

-Is it easier for me to give love than receive love? Are there subtle ways in which I do not accept love? What are they?

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Symbol:  Something visible that by association represents something else that is invisible. 

-What symbolic item/s have meaning for me?  What would I choose to keep near me for strength and courage and as a reminder of God's presence. 


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Some Days are Diamonds

*Excerpts from Bunny’s keynote address at the inaugural gathering of The Bigger C EncouragersTuscaloosa, Alabama, a fellowship for people affected by cancer, 

I suppose I’m revealing my age when I say I’m reminded of the words of that great theologian – singer John Denver –who wrote the lyrics, “Some days are diamonds and some days are stone, sometimes the hard times, won’t leave me alone.”

For me, today is a diamond day, but it was not like that on Thursday, November 20, 1997. 

We all have days that are burned into our memories—those days when we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. I was waiting alone in a hospital room when the doctor walked in and said “Your husband has cancer.” I even remember exactly what weekend it was. The doctor said, “We’ll operate first thing in the morning.” I thought Sam was reacting to the shock of the news when he said, “Oh no, you won’t!”  But he added, “It’s the first time I have had tickets to the Auburn and Alabama game, and I am going!”  I suppose even on stone days we have to keep our priorities straight!

Sam had surgery the following Monday, and after that radiation, but the cancer returned and on February 22, 1999, Sam began what turned into an especially grueling round of chemotherapy. For a while it was nip and tuck as to whether he would survive  treatment.  When we thought the cancer had returned a third time, we were sent to Indiana to see the doctor who developed the protocol for Sam’s cancer and who, by the way, also treated cyclist Lance Armstrong, the 7 time winner of the Tour de France, for the same thing.   The doctor sent us home and told us, "Remember to live your lives."

Today is a diamond day, today we celebrate, because the man I call the Lance Armstrong of Tuscaloosa is still with us.  It has been 12 years and Sam is cancer free.


"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, 'thank you,' that would suffice." --Meister Eckhart

"Live your life each day as you would climb a mountain.  An occasional glance towards the summit keeps the goal in mind, but many beautiful scenes are to be observed from each new vantage point." -Harold B. Melchart. 

The Beloved has given us this day of life.  Let us celebrate and live each moment of it. (Psalm 118:24 paraphrase)

For which of my life's circumstances am I especially grateful?

Am I remembering to live my life? 

What might I do to bring life to this day? What brings me joy?