What a beautiful thing it is when God makes visibly manifest His careful ordering of all of our affairs – even our seemingly small, isolated, and unimportant decisions. Let us always be conscious of that and strive to do all that we do living In His Divine Will, and aware of His continual presence, never daring to suppose that even the smallest thing is indifferent.
Last year, I wrote a post regarding an interview of Pope Francis’ and how it affects the pro-life movement. In writing that post I desired to include a photograph of a devout person praying the Rosary outside a Planned Parenthood. I performed a Google Image search to this end, and felt immediately drawn by the Holy Spirit to one of the images that turned up in the first page of the results. I went with this image, and it is the one still included on that post. After publishing that post, my good friend Fr. James Mattaliano, a very special and holy Jesuit priest, emailed me to let me know that the picture was none other than a very good friend of his, Kyle Clement, from Texas. But the Providence does not stop there; this past Lent, my wife and I made a retreat at the center where Fr. Mattaliano resides (in Massachusetts), and lo and behold, it so happened to coincide with a time when Kyle was also up making a retreat there – all the way from Texas. It was a truly blessed few days, and I am especially thankful that during it I was able to get to know Kyle. Kyle shared with us an incredible story – one that he had told very few people – but I asked him, for God’s glory alone, if he would permit me to post it on my blog. He graciously permitted it, and so I would like to present it to you all now:
Monday morning, December 23, 2013, was cool and crisp here at the ranch as I took my two grandsons (ages 5 and 3) to check and feed cows after breakfast. After feeding and checking cows, we called a set of horses out of the “west” pasture into a large corral; one of the horses was a customer’s who had been here for training.
The horses went up a sorting alley to a catch pen. The sorting alley is 12 feet wide and leads to a “catch” pen, meaning a smaller corral where the horses are easier to catch and halter. The customer had requested that she be made ready to “ship,” meaning he was sending someone to pick her up and take her to new owners, and we were going to facilitate. My grandsons stayed in the pick-up out of the wind and watched through the front glass of the pick-up.
I remember that horse, the customer’s palomino filly, coming up the alley toward me. The next thing I remember is my son, Dunn, helping me to sit up in the sort alley as I choked on blood.
I was wearing brown (faded to tan) canvas coveralls and was mesmerized by the bright crimson blood sparkling in the sunlight, flowing down the tan folds of the coveralls. The blood dripped onto the dust and made tiny balls of mud at first, and then it began to puddle…”I wonder if the Blessed Mother saw Her Son’s blood do that?” I became aware that my son was asking me to speak to him. I could not speak past the broken jaw and split lips so I tried to turn in order to talk, but then darkness started to close in on my vision. I turned my head back straight and the darkness cleared up, so afterwards I tried to keep my head straight. My wife, Valerie, was there and told me she was taking me to the hospital; I stood up and they helped me to the 4Runner (I didn’t want to get blood in Valerie’s car.) We had to stop a couple of times on the way so I could spit out blood, but we made it in record time. At the hospital we took off my boots and coveralls before we went in the ER. They sent us straight in (no waiting – all I had to do was flash them a smile!). They did a CT scan and determined that I should be sent to a level 1 trauma unit in Ft. Worth, 120 air miles to the east. They started to suction the wound and realized that some of the pieces of my mouth were barely attached, and I was able to do my own suctionioning, since I could feel my way around my mouth with the suction machine. The nurses and staff at the Abilene hospital were very nice and concerned about getting me somewhere that could address the injury.
The pain at his point was becoming severe…the image of the words “Jesus, I Trust in You,” appearing as they do on the Divine Mercy Image, seemed to float between my eyes and the world…I started thinking the words…I made a confession to the Divine Mercy image and at the act of contrition I was fearing of the fires of hell…I thanked the Lord for the injury – for the opportunity to do reparation for the vile things which had come out of my mouth in my life – and for His Divine Mercy which would allow me, a sinner, the chance to join my suffering to His to help atone for my sins…
I was not really aware of being loaded into the helicopter or of the first portion of the ride and came to in a situation hearing the nurse asking if i needed more pain medication in my IV….there was little to no pain at this point so i asked her to save it until we were ready to land. When we landed at John Peter Smith hospital the trauma team was ready for us and three oral/maxillofacial surgeons greeted us. We went for an MRI and more CT imaging, then back to a trauma suite where the surgeons explained that they would attempt to reassemble my lower jaw, suture my palate, and wire my lower jaw to the upper jaw, then finally suture my lips and chin. They explained that this would be under local anesthesia as they had to assess my bite and dental orientations throughout the procedure. I asked if I could keep running the suction and they agreed. The procedure lasted over 5 hours in total, with the jaw realignments and Novocaine injections being most painful. When the pain seemed to be too much I would think of someone I had at one time disliked (or worse), and would ask the Lord to apply my suffering to his healing. Most of the time doing this the pain would vanish…not just subside, but vanish. There were a few people I would think of and try this for, and it was clearly shown to me that if I still had unforgiveness or animosity toward them the pain did not vanish but would subside to some extent… I experimented with this and it was accurate… my pain would subside to the extent I wanted God’s love for them, and I truly loved them…enemies included. I can truly say that I have no human enemies today.
We were moved to a room by 10:00pm on Monday the 23rd – about 12 hours after the event …the first day.
When Valerie and I arrived at the room, several nurses and other personnel came to do their various duties: get blood samples, take vital signs, etc. I was medicated for pain but was lucid and was observing almost as separated from myself. I became very aware of the spiritual world in that I knew I was surrounded by angels and the hospital was surrounded by angels – not just for me but for other people trying to trust in the Lord. I was prayerfully aware of the people ministering to me and I prayed for them in their lives, families, jobs and told them how much we appreciated them and their families. Valerie and I discussed how this event was working in the economy of God’s salvation and how we were being given the opportunity to affirm them in their Faith. Valerie relayed to me how, when we were waiting on the helicopter, she had called Fr. Fabian at the Carmelite monastery we frequent, and he said they would pray for healing but also that we would find the right doctors through which the Lord could work. Valerie went to sleep on a recliner in the room around 1am on the 24th and I prayed for everyone I had come in contact with that day; asking God to bless them and their families. Some of the people seemed to linger in my mind so I prayed an extra Ave for them.
Pain meds were dilaudid and morphine given on a rotating 2 hour basis, and I was unable to swallow and was using the suction almost constantly. At one point I poked a particularly tender spot on my jaw and saw lights swirling…then heard the Sanctus…then felt the Sanctus…smelled incense. A Seraphim took form out of the swirling lights before me; it was huge and held a red-hot coal on a rod which looked like a branding iron. It touched the coal to my lip. The heat coming off the coal made the light distort and wave, but I felt no heat. I realized the nurse was speaking to me and wanted to take a blood sample. St. Raphael stood at her side. She inserted the needle for the blood sample and as I watched the blood flow out and fill the tubes it was as if something were flowing into me… warmth spread to my eyes then around my mouth then around my ears… I do not know if these are common side effects of these drugs (or maybe uncommon side effects), or if they had anything to do with the drugs at all. I was praying and giving thanks to God for His love for me and my family and the wonderful opportunity to offer and join my suffering to the suffering of Jesus.
I know that the beating our Lord’s Precious Body took was so much more painful than my small afflictions. I offered to give Him my pain to add to His. He looked at me, and with the slightest nod accepted it, and the joy immediately lifted me – at least felt like it lifted me – from the earth to the Throne room of heaven. I was aware of, somehow, the crucified Christ, the healing Christ, the child Christ, and more amazingly still, was aware of such bright living light that was itself somehow two lights now one moving from the other surrounded by a background or third light… I wanted to stay…
I came to myself choking and had to be about my constant job of suctioning.
The night nurse came in and introduced and handed us over to the day nurse who was a prayerful lady who was sorrowful in being away from her family on Christmas eve. We told her how much we appreciated her and how we wished to be with our family on this day as well. Our son called to tell us that they would continue our traditional practice of getting the tree and decorations put up. We try to spend Christmas eve as a family decorating the house and tree. We tracked their progress through the day and missed them. I was able to hear the grandboys over Valerie’s cell phone, singing and wishing us a Merry Christmas. The Doctor had told us earlier in the morning that my white blood cell count was too high (22) to release me, and that I would have to stay another night. Our eldest grandson, Brody (age 5), was to receive his First Holy Communion at the midnight Mass. Valerie and I visited and prayed and talked about how the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, far from home and with no other human companionship, settled down with the angels to await the coming of the Lord…