What Doors Can Open in a State of Concussion?

Ilia DelioDear Friends of the Omega Center,

Several weeks ago, right before our June ZOOM conference, I had a bike accident.  The night of the accident (as I foolishly tried to ride my bike at night after a lovely evening with friends) I wound up in the ER with twelve stitches in my chin. Because of the upcoming ZOOM conference, I was not aware that I suffered a concussion. However, following the ZOOM conference I started experiencing dizziness, light-headedness and disorientation—all symptoms of a full-blown concussion.  I landed in the ER two more times in early July and was told that I had multiple concussion syndrome (due to previous head injuries in the last five years.)  I had to cease all writing and computer work, as well as driving and alcohol (ugh!) As I watched everyone leave for vacation, I awoke each day praying for healing, knowing that the remainder of my summer would be quite different than what I had planned.  My mother used to say: “God never closes one door without opening another.”

What doors can open in a state of concussion? The doors of patience, mindfulness, gratitude and living the momentary events of our lives as blessed events.  Academia is like an athletic contest, a fast-paced cognitive sprint marked by endless demands for articles, books, talks and intellectual performance. I must say, the night of the accident, my head was full of thoughts, ideas and emotions, as if trying to solve the world’s problems entwined with the complexities of my own life.  As I started experiencing the effects of the concussion, I began to realize the preciousness of life’s moments and the great insight of living in the now, for the present moment is really all we have.

What did I learn from this accident?  That every moment is a blessed event, a God-event, something Saint Paul realized in his own way, after falling off his horse.   By saying this, I do not mean that God is watching over us in every event; rather every event has an ultimate horizon, an absolute center of infinite possibilities held open for a particular response in this particular moment.  The ultimate horizon of each life-event is God.   There is no other God than the God of the eternal now.  God is not simply the ultimate horizon of life; God is the ultimacy of life in this moment. How I live in this moment, therefore, makes a difference to my eternal existence, to the final definition of my life, and what my life means for the world, since the final decision of my life—in this moment–is my irreversible contribution to the world.

I think we all, at some point or another, have related to God as an object of prayer or devotion or maybe simply a topic of discussion but seldom do we think of God as the event horizon of each moment of life.  God is not an object and we are the subjects; God is the absolute horizon of subjectivity itself.  In my disoriented consciousness, I became more conscious that God is the absolute future of my life in this moment; my life and God’s life are unified in a single flow of life. In this moment, therefore, I must decide who or what I exist for.  Am I with God or not?  Am I mindful of God or forgetful of God, wrapped up in my self? We seldom realize that a God-consciousness of the present moment (or lack of) determines the future of our lives.

We often take for granted the moments of our lives in the same way we take for granted the air we breathe and the light of day.  The truth is, however, every moment of life is gift and in every moment we must decide for life or against life:  we must make a choice. Without a conscious awareness of each moment as a blessed event, we could easily squander the precious gift of life.  For each event is final and irreversible: we cannot go back and change the events of time.  In a single moment our lives can change irreversibly; the finality of each event determines our future. In a single moment, the entire world can change.  One has only to recall the event of 9/11 or, more recently, the outbreak of COVID-19.

Life is a series of momentary God-events. In each moment God is creating, waiting, responding, loving and caring for us– not as a big Being over us but as the ultimate, eternal, divine horizon of our unique, personal existence.  With God as the root reality of our lives, we cannot afford to live recklessly or mindlessly, as if life is here to serve our needs. We cannot self-indulge, over-medicate, intoxicate or satiate our endless desires and expect the world to serve our whims:  the unexamined life is not worth living.  The world can only flourish if we flourish as authentic beings.  To grow into my authentic self is to grow into God, which requires a vigilant mindfulness of each moment I engage life.  Thomas Merton (following Augustine) said it so well:  to find God is to find myself, and to find myself is to find God, for God is more interior to me than I am to myself.

Spending these days reflecting on our national and global crises, I cannot help but think that we are on a path accelerating downward.  The frenetic pace of modern life with its blind competitive streak, aimed at achievement, success, money and power is a mindless existence, a society running toward the cliff of emotional and psychological burnout.  Global warming burnout is a consequence of this cliff-hanging existence; so too is COVID-19. We are an overdrive, out-of-control culture, where even going on vacation can be another form of stress, as we make every effort to relax. The number of COVID-related deaths is indicative of our overdrive culture; the insistence on having fun at the expense of dying from a deadly pathogen is alarming.  We live as if the world owes us a good life, when in fact the world owes us nothing but the consequences of our actions.

Pondering the potency of life’s moments, I realize the need to live mindfully, awakening to each conscious moment as a new moment of light and the immediate experience of existence itself.  We must learn new ways of “minding the mind,” as the Buddha realized.  To practice mindfulness is to focus each breath of conscious awareness on the root reality of existence itself: the root of my life is God’s life and the root of God’s life is my life. Centering prayer means living from a deeper center of this divine presence, co-creating with God the moments of my final existence-for each moment is, potentially, my final existence. We tend to live as if the future is forever and the best of life is yet to come.  Mindful living means to live backwards, as if this moment could be my last and final moment.  In this moment is the potential for my eternal happiness or endless sorrow: the choice is mine.

To live in the God-moments of life, minding the mind, is to realize all we desire is here–in this moment–our happiness, peace and joy.  Vacation may be a change of scenery but more so it is a change of mind (from the Latin vacare, “to empty out”). If we can learn to sit still and turn our minds to the immediate horizon of our lives, realizing that in each moment time and eternity are entangled, perhaps we can live in gratitude for the moments that shape our lives.  To live mindful of eternity is to make the best use of time.  My prayer for each of you is to live each moment mind-fully, as the final moment of life, by rooting your lives in the breath of eternal love.

Please continue to pray for my healing, and let us pray together, united in the energies of love, that we cherish the moments of our lives.

Peace

Sr. Ilia

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51 Comments

  1. PAUL NELSON on July 13, 2020 at 10:27 am

    So sorry to read of your unpleasant accident. May it turn out to be a visitation of grace, as a serious accident was for me six years ago. Will pray for your continued healing…and thank you for your wise words.



  2. Ben Hoch on July 13, 2020 at 10:39 am

    Thank you, Ilia, for sharing your experience relating to your injury. I hope and pray for healing.

    We often do take each moment of our lives for granted and we are distracted from God experiences and have things constantly imposed upon us. It is easy to become lost when we pursue life’s distractions, such as having “fun,” as the ultimate goal of our lives. Thankfully, it seems that when we are able to become aware of and accept the invitation to participate in what really matters in each moment, and to do what is most loving in each moment, we bring forth new potentials for new realities for ourselves, others and the world.

    Thank you, again, for your wisdom.
    Peace



  3. Sheila on July 13, 2020 at 11:06 am

    Ilia, I am not surprised re your medical situation given the fall you had. Please take good care of yourself… we need you…our future needs you I have been praying for you a good number of years now……for me you are the mid-wife of the future……de Chardin has been my inspiration since 1960

    Be gentle with yourself during this time of healing



  4. Jeff Olsenholler on July 14, 2020 at 10:54 am

    A shake, bake, and shake spring (two concussions bracketing a cytokine storm 104+F fever) probably had as great an influence on my creativity as any class I’ve ever taken. It looks like you’re beginning to reap similar benefits. I pray it is so, for the benefit of all the world



  5. gail ross on July 14, 2020 at 10:57 am

    I am so sorry to hear of your fall and multiple concussions! Your words are SO needed in today’s world.
    Please don’t use your computer anymore, unless you have been given the green light from your physician (s). Rest, Sleep, Pray!! Another book is in those words… You can follow the “Eat, Pray, Love” road.
    I read “Birth of a Shining Star” and loved it all. You’re quite something, as my mother used to say!!!



  6. MaryLouise Chesley-Cora on July 14, 2020 at 11:03 am

    Dear Ilia, I am so saddened to read of your accident this morning. In the midst of your own need to heal, you pour out great wisdom on connecting each moment with our loving and gracious God. Life is so precious and in these days of isolation, I am aware of the numbers of dear ones departing this reality each day as a result of Coved19.
    You have been an inspiration to me for many years and I am grateful to you for that.

    I add my prayers for your healing. May you truly rest and be refreshed. As another mentioned, we need your wisdom, your goodness, your vision of life and God and universal hope.
    Blessings and peace,
    MaryLouise



  7. Beth Hatcher on July 14, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Wow. You so beautifully and eloquently put everything in perspective. A reminder I often need. I’m very sorry to hear of your head injury and pray for your complete healing.



  8. Lynda Clayton on July 14, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Ilia, may your recovery be filled with insight and much peace. Prayers for your healing!



  9. Hank Phillips on July 14, 2020 at 11:28 am

    I am sorry for your accident and hope that your healing will be complete. The expression of your wisdom is an inspiration to me and appears to be the purpose of your life.
    Peace and continued fulfillment.



  10. Heather Thompson on July 14, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Ilia, thank you for sharing this precious insight, your thoughts on the path of descent we face, and what can be learned from the process of healing from a concussion.

    I too suffered a concussion on March 6, 2011… for me it was not only life changing and ultimately life affirming, but as the Medical Expert Dr. Darold Treffert explained to me, it brought forth a new consciousness as my brain rewired. I became one of a handful of acquired savants world wide. Color became my language. Art was my expression. Theology my passion. I was a Healthcare CEO before with no artistic skill…. now I’m a Contemplative Artist, halfway through my MDIV, a Franciscan Monastic that doesn’t fit into a box, and Theopoetics is simply a way of life.

    I’ve read and enjoyed your writings for some time now, as I share the deep connection between science and theology. The Omega Center is something I would LOVE to contribute to…. perhaps artistically. In the meantime, I will hold your healing in prayer as I do for many, giving it to my companion old growth cedar forest that surrounds my home.

    Here is the story of my concussion:
    https://metro.co.uk/2017/04/23/meet-the-female-entrepreneur-who-became-an-artist-overnight-after-a-brain-injury-6590731/

    One of MANY Articles by Darold Treffert (Content Expert for the movie Rainman and worldwide Savant Expert)

    https://www.agnesian.com/blog/acquired-savant-accidental-genius

    And some of my art/writings
    http://Www.bluephoenixart.com (rebuilding this site)
    http://Www.bluephoenixmonastic.com



  11. Ruth Droege, O.P. on July 14, 2020 at 11:49 am

    Ilia, After reading the reflection about the fall from the bike, the resulting trauma, and how it resulted in your becoming more mindful of God’s presence in the “now” of our lives, I became more aware of how important the Omega Center has become for me, not only in the realm of ideas but also in shared experience. I am grateful for the time you took to write the reflection and for all the others who shared their thoughts. Ruth ,



  12. Dexter Lanctot on July 14, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    Your concussion consciousness yields amazing clarity of thought Ilya. While I regret your accident and join in the prayer for full recovery, I am grateful for the wisdom that is coming out of it. Got connected to your talks and writings about two years ago via The Philadelphia House of Grace Catholic Worker and am quite enthused about Omega Center. Thanks for your dedication to this vision.



  13. Kevin Murray on July 14, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    “We live as if the world owes us a good life, when in fact the world owes us nothing but the consequences of our actions.” The cult of personal freedom above all is devastating in so many ways – from the pro-choice lobby to the worship of firearms to the refusal to wear face masks. It’s all a manifestation of the same error. We are all connected in Christ, and no action of ours occurs without affecting others. If we could only realize and live what we’ve been reading since the scriptures were written!
    Thanks for your words, and I will pray for your full recovery.



  14. Mary Bencomo on July 14, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    Ilia,
    Sometimes we are each called on to bear whiteness to what is happening. So it seems you are called. Stillness is the door to prayer. “By waiting and calm you will be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” Isaiah 30,15. My prayer for you! God bless you and thank for your beautiful presence. With love, Mary



  15. Laury on July 14, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Your words are steeped in truth.
    Grateful for your prayer request, praying….unceasingly ?



  16. Dr. Mike Luedde on July 14, 2020 at 12:35 pm

    Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing the story of your accident and the wisdom you are learning. I especially resonate with your image of the Now as an event horizon. I know how frustrating a concussion can be, and I pray for your healing as I thank you for your work. Rest…



  17. Larry Corrigan on July 14, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Dear Sister Illia,

    We will have to get a concussion protocol for nuns on bikes ( just adding a bit of humour to the mix), as we go forward. Could so relate to your words and thank you for same. The recently renamed prayer/ study group “ Father Leo’s Omega Laboratory of Divine Love” will keep you in our prayers.

    Yours in trusting in the slow work of God,

    Larry



  18. Maria on July 14, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Am grateful for your presence in the world. May all of this be gift to your continuing expanding clarity and your work. It is needed as we learn necessary lessons. Be well.



  19. The Rev. Michelle A. Danson on July 14, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    Ilia: I read these comments on Tuesday, July 14th 2020, 23 years to the day when my husband of 22 years was killed instantly in a car accident on his way to the airport for a business trip, leaving me a widow in a foreign land (USA … I’m British), with 4 teenage children …. In my journey through grieving and growing I came to these same conclusions in a cellular visceral way of knowing. Thank you for sharing them with so many of us through your vast following. I am sorry that you had to experience your accidents and concussions, however I am so grateful that the God of infinite fecundity is using you to help so many of us grow in wisdom and depth. Many Blessings on your day and on your continued return to health, may you continue to be a blessing to so very many throughout the world, as you share your wisdom and love for all of creation. The Rev. Michelle A. Danson



  20. Nancy Severin on July 14, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Through the energy of limitless love, prayers continue for your healing. Peace and rest, Sr. Ilia



  21. Phil Robers on July 14, 2020 at 1:26 pm

    My prayers for your rapid and complete healing. Please take care of yourself. Concussions are serious business.

    Thanks for your beautifully worded comments. It’s so easy to lose our focus on the present moment.

    One question though. How did this get written if you were not to write?

    Shalom, Phil



  22. Mike Ricci, Sr on July 14, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Sr Ilia, thank you for sharing your story. May the Spirit of Infinite Love within you become your complete healing.



  23. Maria Esther Moro-Garcia on July 14, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Dear Sister Ilia,
    I am sorry about your medical condition and send my best wishes for a speedy recovery. Please, be gentle with yourself. Your clarity and wisdom are a balm for our wounded world.

    Peace to you!

    María Esther



  24. Lorraine Mackin on July 14, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    After reading your account of your bike accident, and then reading your thoughts as they have come to you living with “multiple concussion syndrome”, I’m reminded of something my dear brother used to tease me with a lifetime ago, which was “I’ve forgotten more than you know”!
    And so it is, dear, dear Ilia, that your concussive brain continues to shine its light. May it always be so.
    I join my prayers with the others for your complete healing.



  25. Patty on July 14, 2020 at 2:20 pm

    Praying for you Ilia, love you bunches, Patty



  26. deh5400@bellsouth.net on July 14, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    You are a ray of sunshine and wisdom and a real inspiration in my life. Your writings are richer tan poetry and your message is soothing and spiritually insightful, even in the midst of suffering and recovering from your accident. May you be well soon beautiful soul!



  27. deh5400@bellsouth.net on July 14, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    You are truly a blessing and remarkable woman. You have been an inspiration in my life since I subscribed to the Omega Center. Your message today is like nectar and spiritually insightful, created in the midst of suffering and recovering from your accident. Get well soon beautiful soul!



  28. The Praying Life on July 14, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Prayers for you, dear woman. Holding your close to each new moment, that expectant horizon giving birth to all things bright and beautiful.



  29. Alice on July 14, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story with us Ilia and the deep meaning you have gleaned from this experience. It resonates deeply with me and so many others I am sure.Caring for my husband who has Alzheimers has brought me to the wisdom of that last paragraph. This is a timeless message and the foundation of my spiritual life. Praying for your continued healing.Thanks again so much.



  30. Anne Grant on July 14, 2020 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you for gift of sharing your experience so beautifully, thankfully and lovingly even though It involved your very serious concussion. I will be praying for your healing. The world needs you and the wisdom of your writings.



  31. Renou on July 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm

    “This day will never come again”, Thomas Merton.You are in my prayers, Elia. You became a friend when I started reading your books,18th years ago when I was still in Japan. Now at the twilight of my life the sharing of your experiences opens a new and ultimate horizon. Thanks. You are a person of vision. “Where there is no vision the people perish; and the people are perishing. The most urgent task in the world is to restore our vision in the time – the perhaps very short time – that is left to us before it is too late, before the darknes closes in upon us”. Gerald Vann, o.p. The Water and the Fire (1953).



  32. Pat Cresswell on July 14, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    Dear Ilia, so sorry to hear about your accident and praying for your complete recovery. Thank you for your wise words – inspiring as always. You are truly a beacon of hope and love in a darkening world. Please take care of yourself. May God bless you and heal you.
    Pat



  33. Kay Jackson on July 14, 2020 at 3:51 pm

    Your Spirit is speaking to you! Telling you, reminding you, to “wake up” “look out”. You need time for self care and to reflect deeper on this “sticky spiral” where so much excess is tearing apart the strands of “connectedness”.
    There is meaning here, as well as love and compassion. I await your insightful and hopeful teaching.
    I am so grateful we breathe the same air.

    Restore, Heal, Renew
    Kay



  34. Michel Renou on July 14, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    You are in my prayers, Elia; you became my friend when I started reading your books 18th years ago, I was in Japan. Now at the twilight of my life, the sharing of your exerience opens a new ultimate horizon.
    You are a person of vision. “Where there is no vsion, the people perish; and the people are perishing. The most urgent task in the world is to restore our vision in the time – the perhaps very short time – that is left to us before it is too late, before the darkness closes in upon us”. The Water and the Fire. Gerard Vann. o.p. (1953)



  35. John and Lisa Georgiana on July 14, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Dear Ilia,

    Blessings do sometimes come in the sufferings that we experience. Because we are more still. Thank you for the present of YOUR PRESENCE!!!

    Lisa @ Saint Franics University



  36. Margaret on July 14, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you for your wisdom Ilia. I pray for full healing for you



  37. Mary Schoolcraft Saunders on July 14, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for your WISDOM. Praying for your continuing healing.



  38. Kathleen Deignan, CND, PhD on July 15, 2020 at 12:48 am

    Dear Ilia,

    Thank God you are still here. Go easier (as everyone tells me). Take time to heal and to reflect on this fall, the concussion, the invitation to rest your brain. Let it revive. All shall be well. Kathleen Deignan, CND



  39. Deborah on July 15, 2020 at 5:27 am

    Prayers for your continued recovery and deep gratitude for all that you are and do!



  40. Adriana Clavijo on July 15, 2020 at 10:25 am

    Dear Ilia,
    May you continue recovering from the effects of the concussion and continue enjoying life in the presence of God.
    While I was reading the post of the accident I became extremely concern. I realized I felt the exact same way as if a close friend would have had the accident.
    One of your many spiritual friends,
    Adriana



  41. Thomas Telhiard on July 15, 2020 at 12:46 pm

    Prayers for your healing Ilia. As you so beautifully remind us in your reflection, just as our friend Raimon says, “every day contains life in its entirety.” Would that we dedicate ourselves to this urgent practice. Peace and strength! –Thomas



  42. Elizabeth J Adams-Eilers on July 15, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    Dear Ilia,
    What a tapestry of love is woven by the comments posted here in response to your news about the accident and your concussion! May my words add a thread to this tapestry, and its color is green! The color of hope!
    Peace and every good,
    Elizabeth Adams-Eilers, ofs



  43. Barbara S on July 15, 2020 at 5:53 pm

    Dear Sr Delia,
    my friend and watched your conference with.. about love and benefited greatly. That said, now I sense I can relate to you which is even better. Thank you for sharing your opening. Best wishes for your recovery,



  44. Marian McClelland on July 16, 2020 at 2:26 am

    Dear Ilia, so sorry to hear of your accident. My love and prayers are with you as you go gently with yourself, moment by conscious moment. You are precious to me and to millions of others – thank you for your profound thoughts. Recover, gently – we need you.



  45. dulcejohnston on July 16, 2020 at 5:45 am

    I am praying for you Ilia, thanking God for you and your very engaging writings, talks and the sharing of yourself with us your followers. I’m praying for your healing following your bike accident. Pls listen to your body and take things easy. I’m a 74 yr old pensioner, and I broke my ribs last Sept while coming down the hill in the dark (silly of me for climbing it at dusk in the first place) and tripped and had a bad fall.
    Thank you very much again for all you are doing reaching out to the world….
    Dulce Johnston from Lower Hutt, New Zealand



  46. Mary Pat Jones on July 18, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Our dear Ilia, I am saddened you are experiencing this path and know you continue to be held in prayer. All of this will contribute a new tributary to the vast waters you have traveled and shared so beautifully in your writing and speaking. You have helped me greatly with kenosis. My heart will be with you in my centering practice.



  47. dianelwood on July 20, 2020 at 6:48 am

    You’re back! This writing has touched me more even more deeply than your wonderful academic research on Teilhard. I am praying, Ilia–for you and the world in this very crazy time. May we be drawn to God –to Ultimate Love at the heart of every moment.



  48. Kay Jackson on July 25, 2020 at 7:26 am

    “Lfe is a series of God events” does this mean that God sends “tests” to see how our physicality will respond through their gift of free willl? I don’t really believe in tests sent by God. I do believe in tests sent by US in that we are cocreating our reality by the choice we make ( using our free will )

    Please help me understand!
    Thank you!
    Many prayer for a speedy recovery!!



  49. John Earle on July 25, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    Sr Ilia
    Thank you for your perspective! Both insightful and inspiring! Wishing you speedy recovery. You are in our prayers.
    Be well,
    John and Barbara



  50. taylorhenryporting on September 1, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you, Sister Ilia. A beautiful reflection. My prayers for your full and fast recovery.



  51. Marina on June 16, 2022 at 10:05 am

    Thank you ilia I am experiencing concussion due to a fall also . 6 weeks now and trying to build my brain up again with short stints on screen. The whole time I have felt God calling me closer and to reflect and take note of my life path. I pray that I will listen to him. I hope you are ok now. Thank you for this insight. I am resting in God and getting to know him better.



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