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.


Sr. Ilia

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

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

  2. 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

  3. 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!!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

  7. 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.

  8. 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,

  9. 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

  10. 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


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