It is a maxim and extremely laudable goal of Workers Compensation Boards everywhere to have no accidents in the workplace. None of us go to work to get hurt. Yet it happens! Recently, one of our people, in the company that I run as another facet of my life, was seriously injured stepping off a ladder. Injured in a way that is potentially life-altering. This was not the result of neglect, faulty practices or equipment, or employee error and – short of not being at work – there was no way to prevent this accident. Certainly it could just as easily have happened elsewhere, but it occurred on our watch, and I felt sickened to my very core over it.
Naturally all the standard investigations were made and questions asked. Forms were filled out and files created. In the 24 years we have been in business nothing like this has ever happened and it led me to a great deal of thought about the capriciousness of life. Thoughts about how quickly things can change, how the ease of today can become the difficult of tomorrow. We all know this, and grasp it intellectually, but when confronted with painful reality a conflicted state overwhelms when facing the issue.
It is disturbing how the swirl of emotion, the feelings of guilt, the “what ifs” all rush to the front. Each thought falls like water from a dripping tap, especially when trying to get a little sleep, joltingly focusing attention on the problem and nothing else. Peace becomes just a word, not a state of mind, and the question arises how does one regain it?
Speaking of just such matters Paul wrote the Corinthians stating “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” Turn it over to God is indeed the Christian response but it is not always a straight forward letting go. We all like to be in charge. Just as we decide how to apportion our time, talents and treasure so do we choose where to spend our emotional energy. Are we trusting God completely or continuing to replay the “what ifs”?
St Ignatius sought to provide a format of prayer to address exactly this struggle in concrete steps and they offer solace through prayerful holy conversation. His Spiritual Exercises outline 5 basic points to consider. First re-examine the events of the day but, rather than dwell on what might have been, pray for clarity on what is. Become aware of God’s presence in this moment. Secondly remember that every day is a gift. Review the day with gratitude. Rejoice in the small pleasures provided when balancing against the hurt and give thanks. Third be aware of the power of your emotions. Reflect prayerfully on what purpose they serve and how God may be speaking through them to you. The mind, body, spirit connection is an often neglected trinity.
Lastly look toward the next day and examine the feelings that bubble up in anticipation of the morrow. Seek God where he wills to be found and trust in His presence. It is His gift to us so that we may give back to Him – as a response to such abundant love – by living to our fullest even when confronting our brokenness. Pray then for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to highlight what God sees as important in all this. Offer whatever prayerful response is appropriate whether it be thanks, penance or intercession. The most powerful prayer for me in the service of Compline then sums up a final release “Let us be still in the presence of God. It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done has not been done; let it be.” And let it be!!!