Exploring the meaning of life…

Posts tagged ‘God’

God Can Find You Even in Nickajack Cave by S.L. Galletano

When my teenage friends were listening to the Beatles, we were playing Johnny Cash at my house.  I can remember putting those huge records in the record player and listening to Johnny Cash sing the Folsom Prison Blues and Ring of Fire.  Then, with technology, we finally advanced to 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, and at last, cd’s.  But I didn’t know the man behind the music until recent years, except that I knew he wore black.  I didn’t know the haunted man who would one day in 1967 crawl into Nickajack Cave to die.

Most people know the basic story behind Cash.  He was raised in poverty in Dyess, Arkansas.  He and his brother, Jack, helped their parents pick cotton as soon as they could hold the bags.  His abusive father always favored Jack over J.R., as he was then called, and blamed him for Jack’s horrible death when he was pulled into a table saw.  The pain and anguish of his childhood was never far from his thoughts, although he tried in many ways to bury it.  He left Dyess to enlist in the Air Force, his ticket out of the pain and dismal poverty of his childhood.  When he returned from the service, he moved to Memphis and the rest is history.  Sam Phillips of Sun Records signed him and the Tennessee Two on his label.                                                                                                                             

A few years of the lifestyle of touring  musicians took its toll on him.  He turned to booze and amphetamines, which were easy to get at the time, and eventually to barbiturates to bring him down from the uppers.  Johnny Cash was an addict waiting to happen and it didn’t take long for him to get hooked.  He loved the energy of the amphetamines, but they impaired his already radical behavior.  He began carrying guns and firing them for no reason.  Once he and Sammy Davis Jr. got thrown out of a hotel in Australia when they staged a gun fight in the lobby in front of guests.  They only fired blanks, but they scared everyone to death.  He chopped through locked doors in hotels with a hatchet to wake up his band.  He dropped a huge load of horse manure in one hotel lobby.  He and his tour started carrying a chain saw in the car and when they would roll into a town in the early dawn hours, they would find the nicest, neatest yard in town and cut down one of the trees.  There seemed to be no end to the mischief and destruction that he could do.  He ruined his career and marriage due to his addiction.  No one wanted to hear anything more about Johnny Cash.  He was no longer welcome in most country music halls.

When his pain and misery overtook him, he decided to end it all.  Drugged almost out of his mind, he went to Nickajack Cave in Marion County, Tennessee, to end his life.  He crawled for what seemed like hours on his belly and knees in pitch-black darkness until his flashlight went out, and then he laid down to die.  The man in black was as far away from God as he could get.  He had turned away from the light and embraced the darkness, almost begging it to take him out of the world.  To his surprise, he had a spiritual awakening there on his belly in Nickajack Cave.  God told him He wasn’t through with him yet and that his days as a drug addict were numbered.  Without a light, he crawled back out of the cave the same way he had crawled in and found his mother and June Carter waiting outside the cave for him.  His mother, who lived in California at the time, had flown to Tennessee because she had a premonition that he needed her.  In the next month he detoxed from pills and booze and recharged his career in music.  He focused his music on those people, who like him, had been through the darkness and wanted to find the light.  He sang at prisons and for presidents.  He understood what lay in the darkness because he had crawled every inch of it on his belly to get to the light.  He saw the souls of the prisoners and the down-and-out addicts, and he never forgot that kind of pain.

If you’re stuck in the mire of the darkness, listen to the man in black.  Crawl to the light and He will be there waiting for you.

Have a happy journey!



God is never late..by S.L.Galletano


God is never late, but He has missed some really good opportunities to be early in my life.  Have you ever wondered about the timing of God’s answers to your prayers?  I have.  But God showed me that He knows when to act.  Here is my story:

Almost twenty years ago, I took my then four-year-old daughter roller-skating at a crowded, popular roller rink.  She didn’t know how to skate, so I held her left hand, and she used her right hand to cling to the bar around the rink.  The problem was that you couldn’t go all away around the rink that way.  At one end of the rink, there was a roller-coaster type contraption they called the “wave.”  The skaters, mostly boys, were going through it so fast that it took my breath away.   When they got to the end, they literally “flew” out at a rate of speed that made me dizzy.  Sometimes they turned the lights off and you skated to strobe-lights, which only made it more difficult to navigate.  If you didn’t go through it, you had no other alternative except to skate around it, putting you in the path of the skaters that were flying out of it.

As we approached it for the first time, I heard in my soul: “Remember Glenda.”  Glenda, a childhood friend of mine, broke her arm at the roller rink as all of us watched helplessly.  When I heard that, I stopped and changed sides with my daughter, just in case if something happened at the wave, it would be me that got hit and not my daughter.  We skated around that way for a couple of minutes and then it happened: a boy coming out of the wave hit me, knocking us both down.  If I hadn’t changed sides with my daughter, she would have been hit instead of me.  I broke my right arm so badly that they had to call an ambulance to take me to the hospital.  I think it was the most pain that I have ever experienced in my whole life.                                                                                                

At the hospital, the doctor told me that it would most likely require surgery to repair.  They put a temporary cast on it, and I agreed to see an Orthopedic Surgeon the next day.  For purposes of anonymity, I will call him Dr. Jones for this story.  Dr. Jones had a reputation for  ungodly, arrogant behavior – brilliant- but arrogant.  He xrayed my arm the next day and gave me the devastating news – I would never have the use of my right arm again.   He put on another cast, and I left with no hope.  I was a nurse and a single mother – how could I make it without my right arm?

Months later when the cast came off, he sent me to therapy three times a week.  My arm still felt broken, and I could not straighten it.  I worked at an orthopedic facility and had therapy there.  The therapists told me that when I could hold a gallon of milk with my arm, it would be healed.  I couldn’t even hold a small one-pound can of green beans without horrible pain.  At the end of each therapy session, one of the therapists would try to straighten my arm out a little more, and I always cried.  These therapists were my friends and co-workers, and they hated to see me cry.   After a couple of months, the therapists advised me to go back to the doctor because I had made no progress.  I went back to see Dr. Jones.  He xrayed my arm and told me we had to start all over again, which meant he would have to surgically rebreak my arm, recast it and then go through therapy again. 

When I walked to my car, I felt helpless again.  I just knew I wouldn’t be able to stand that again.  I started driving home, crying, and pleading with God.  I had prayed that He would heal my arm from the very beginning, but it didn’t happen.  I told him I didn’t think I could go through it all again and begged Him to heal it.  I felt a sudden rush of heat and tingling go all through my arm.  As if by magic, my arm straightened out perfectly.  It seemed so magical that I  looked around for fairy dust.  Amazed, I watched my arm straighten out with absolutely no pain.  When I got home, I ran to my refrigerator and held a gallon of milk with my right arm.  My arm was painless and strong.  I cried with joy. The next day I went back to see Dr. Jones.  I didn’t know what I was going to tell him.  As I said, he was arrogant.  I thought he would make fun of me if I told him God healed it.  All my sources that knew him well told me that he didn’t believe in God. 

When he walked into my room, I showed him my arm, which was now perfectly straight.

“What happened?” he asked me in disbelief.
“God healed my arm,” I replied.
He took my arm and moved it around, something he couldn’t do the day before without me crying out in pain.
“Let’s get an xray,” he said.

We did the xray, and I waited in his office for him to come and give me the results.  When he entered the room, he had my chart in his hand.  He did not say a word, but sat down at his desk and started writing.  When he had finished, he handed me my chart to read.  This is what he wrote:

“Miraculously healed.”

He stood up, smiled and offered me his right hand.  No more words were necessary.

If God had healed my arm in the beginning, Dr. Jones and my therapy team would not have been able to be a part of this miracle.  With God in charge, this miracle affected many people.  He is never late.

Have a happy journey!

The Battle of the Mind and Metamorphosis by S.L. Galletano

Years ago, I went to hear a young revival preacher.  I found myself nodding off and unable to stay interested.  Then, he said something that I wrote down, which has impacted my whole life:  All the battles of life are won or lost in the mind!  That is one of the most powerful truths that I’ve ever encountered.

The Bible has much to say about the mind.  My favorite is Roman 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So, how then do we renew the mind?  What kind of metamorphosis is needed?  I like what writer Martha Beck has to say about the subject:  “I used to think I knew how some caterpillars become butterflies.  I assumed they weave cocoons, then sit inside growing six long legs, four wings and so on.  I figured if I were to cup open a cocoon, I’d find a butterfly-ish caterpillar, or a caterpillar-ish butterfly, depending on how far things had progressed.  I was wrong.  In fact, the first thing caterpillars do in their cocoons is shed their skin, leaving a soft, rubbery chrysalis.  If you were to look inside the cocoon early on, you’d find nothing but a puddle of glop.  But in that glop are certain cells, called imago cells, that contain the DNA-coded instructions for turning bug soup into a delicate, winged creature – the angle of the dead caterpillar.”

We go through many changes in our lifetime, some good – some bad, and each time we are given the opportunity to learn and transcend something, usually a problem we faced that seemed to rob us of all joy.  But the key is to allow this metamorphosis to complete itself.  We don’t go from caterpillar to butterfly overnight, and maybe not even in our lifetime.  The trick is to learn the lesson that has resulted from the “problem,” renew our minds, and go on to the next issue that comes our way.

If you’ve ever read Kafka’s Metamorphosis then you know that Gregor, the protagonist of the story, wakes up and has been totally transformed into an insect.  Hopefully, that will never happen to us.  But, sometimes, life presents us with problems that seem even worse than Gregor’s fate.  We can’t see anyway out – we feel hopeless and doomed.  It seems that our world is crumbling before our very eyes.  Sometimes, we just need to step back and be still for a moment or as long as it takes to see that a metamorphosis is taking place in our lives and in our minds.  If we can listen long enough to hear God’s voice, we can trust that He is in charge of this whole metamorphosis process, and if we trust long enough, we will see the “butterfly” that is emerging.  We can renew our minds and prepare for the next stage of our growth.  And, for as long as we are alive, this metamorphosis will continue until one day we realize it is time to meet our Maker.

Trust God’s voice and have a happy journey!

A Lesson in Miracles by S.L. Galletano

I am honored in my career as a nurse that I have been able to witness a number of miracles.  About twenty years ago, I worked in the Intensive Care Unit of a small hospital.  An elderly woman had been in the ICU for a number of weeks, comatose after a heart attack.  The physician advised the family that they might want to consider turning off her life support and letting her go since there were no signs of recovery.  The family looked crushed when they heard the words of the doctor.  They asked that the doctor and I join them at her bedside as they prayed.  We all held hands as the family prayed and told the patient that it was OK for her to go to her heavenly Father.  After the prayer, the family went in tears to the cafeteria as we turned off all of the life-support machines.  We agreed that I would page them when she passed away.  I sat at the desk watching her heart on the monitor.  The room was very still and quiet.  Then, suddenly, in a loud voice, I heard someone say, “Where’s my teeth?”  I turned to find the patient sitting up in bed, looking around for her dentures.                                                                                                               

She seemed to sense my amazement and said, “What?  Can’t I have my teeth?”

“Of course you can,” I said, handing her the dentures.

I went back to the desk and paged the family to return to the ICU.  I knew they would think that she had died, but I had no other way to communicate with them.  I will never forget the looks on their faces when they saw her sitting up in her bed as if nothing had happened.

She went home the next day.  I lost track of her after that day, but I have never forgotten her or the miracle I witnessed.  How do you make sense of something like that?  You don’t even try.  God is just God – all the time.

Have a happy journey and keep your mind open to a miracle!


How did God create what has never been?

A Veiled Mist

When does time begin,
or end, for that matter?
Is it when our nostrils feel breath
or is it when a sperm penetrates the egg?

Life is but a vapor.
Ethereal, a veiled mist,
air that isn’t really there…
but it is life.
It is us.

How, then, did we begin?                                                 


When we were just cells
or nucleic acids?
Do we all have this
wisdom deep inside
the vapors of our

 What lurks below the layers
of our being?
A monster?
Or a perfect plan?

The answer is there.
I know it is.
I want it badly, too.

I will keep searching…

Have you ever read the first few verses in Genesis and wondered about its meaning?  “And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:2.  When I read that I think, “Wow!  I wonder what that looked like?”  It is one of the mysteries of Genesis for me.  The earth was without form and void, but yet it existed in some manner which seemed to include water.  Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who can read this and just go to the next verse.  But I am not so lucky.  I want to understand this first so I can move on, but unfortunately, we are not offered any more information about this.  This is how we began and yet it offers very few clues to the actual moment or how it came to be, how WE came to be.  So I am still searching…what are your thoughts?

Have a happy journey!                                     

Our brilliant beginning?

When that which is perfect has finally come…

Today I found myself humming  an old hymn that we used to sing in our church when I was young – “He lives.”  It’s funny how many times we can sing a song and never really pay attention to the words.  Here are some of the words:

“I serve a risen Saviour                                      
He’s in the world today.
I know that He is living
no matter what men say.

I see His hand in mercy,
I hear his voice of cheer,
And just the time I need him,
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives,
Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.” Alfred Ackley

Like me, you may have heard many sermons about what it means to “walk with God.”  The Bible says that Enoch and Adam both walked with God, but what does that really mean?  Some will say that it is a literal translation – that God walked beside each one of these men here on earth.  Others will say that it is a metaphor for having a close, loving relationship with God.  Perhaps they are both right, but it has come to mean something else to me.

Years ago, a close friend of mine wrote an essay that I just couldn’t understand at the time.   He talked about what happens when a student and that which he studies become one in the same. I thought this was an absurd idea!  Was he saying that if we study history long enough, we become history?  That didn’t make any sense to me.  If we study math, do we become math?  I’ve actually thought about it many times over that last couple of decades and finally realized that he meant this in the spiritual realm only, not in the physical “real” world around us.  In that context, it finally made sense to me.  How wonderful to reach a time in our lives when we become one and the same with God – when we no longer know where we stop and God begins!  Could that be what Jesus meant when he said, “The Father and I are One?”  Every now and then, I have a brief and fleeting moment in which I comprehend what Jesus meant.  I catch sight of what it means to love God so completely that there is nothing else but love.  In that moment, everything makes sense and is so glorious that there are no words to describe it.

The Apostle Paul wrote that we only know in part now – we are limited by our earthly minds.  We can’t comprehend the whole story yet, but someday we will.  Paul goes on to say that when that which is perfect has finally come, we are whole and our parts cease to be.  That is when the student and that which he studies become one.  And the brief and fleeting moments when I have experienced that continue to lead me to a full realization of what that will be like.  For me, that is what is meant by “heaven.”

Have a happy journey!  

Are we entertaining angels unaware?

Bayley Rush

Luke 4: 10-11:
“For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.”     

In Billy Graham’s book, Angels, he tells the story about a celebrated Philadelphia neurologist who had gone to sleep after an especially tiring day. Suddenly a knock at his door awakened him.  He found a poorly dressed girl who was deeply upset.  She told him her mother was very sick and needed help.  Although he was very tired, the doctor dressed and followed the girl through the snowy night to her house.  He found the woman desperately ill with pneumonia.  He complimented the woman on the persistence of her daughter to get help for her.  She looked at him strangely and told him her daughter had died one month ago.  She added, “Her shoes and clothes are still in that closet.”

Amazed and perplexed, he opened the door to find the very coat the little girl had worn.  He touched it – it was dry and obviously had not been outside in the snowy night.  Who was the little girl who had come to him?  Was she an angel? 
Reverend John Paton was a missionary to the New Hebrides Islands.  One night, hostile natives surrounded his mission headquarters, intent on burning the Patons out and killing them.  He and his wife prayed all through the night.  When daylight came they looked out with amazement to find that the attackers had left.  A year later the chief of the tribe converted to Jesus Christ.  Mr. Paton asked him what had kept him and his men from burning down their house and killing them.  The chief replied with surprise, “Who were all those men you had with you there?  Paton replied, “There were no men there, just my wife and I inside.” The chief told him they had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords in their hands.  Was this luck or angels?
In April of this year, my granddaughters and I were in a terrible car wreck.  My youngest granddaughter, Bayley, (pictured above) was thrown from the car even though she had been restrained in her car seat.  One of the witnesses told me that she had flown out of the window like a limp rag doll.  When she hit the pavement, she knocked out one of her front teeth and cut her face very badly.  When she arrived at the hospital, the plastic surgeon took her directly into surgery, because of the delicate nature of repairing her face.  The ambulance took me to a different hospital and I couldn’t stop crying.  Even though it wasn’t my fault, I felt so badly that she had been thrown from the car and injured so badly.  My other granddaughter and I received scrapes from the air bags, but that was about the extent of our injuries.  My daughter called me and told me that a friend said it was angels that took Bayley out of the car.  I thought about that for a while, but I didn’t really believe it.  Why would angels do that?
About a week later, I went to get some things out of my car that was in a tow yard.  It was the first time I had seen the car since the accident.  When I walked around to the back passenger side where Bayley had been sitting, I gasped.  It had taken almost all of the impact.  It was a direct hit on Bayley.  When I looked at the car, I knew that had she not been removed from her car seat, she would have been killed.  And then I knew…it was angels that took her out of the seat and saved her life.
I have asked God a million times before to surround my loved ones with angels, but I guess I really didn’t believe that He did. I believe in angels now.  Do you have any angel stories?  Please share them with us under comments.
You can read more of Billy Graham’s stories in his book Angels.                  

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