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Helplessness, searing bone pain, and fog-brain reduced me to total dependence upon others following last summer’s fall. It also shut down my egoic mind: I was no longer in control—of anything. Suddenly many helpers filled my waking hours; their cues prompted my snail-like return to life.

Dreams of healthy functioning gave way to long hours of exercise atop my bed. Indeed, they became a prayer, of sorts, while therapists eyed my weekly progress and urged more challenging stretches. My leg muscles, atrophied from the hip surgery, began to wake up. My elbow and shoulder stiffness lessened. I could dress myself again. Even neighbors applauded my progress during supervised walks with my cane around the court.

However, all this changed the morning of July twenty-ninth when I awoke to a one- inch-discrepancy in the length of my legs that skewed my balance. There followed a modified exercise program, chiropractic adjustments, and healing massages. After weeks of no change, I consulted my surgeon. An x-ray revealed the displacement of the three pins in my hip, and more surgery was indicated.

During the lengthy work-up of tests and x-rays, I again shut down. Within the ensuing silence I discovered I was still controlling my return to health. Somehow, my Healing Presence was taking orders from me. And when the November first surgery was rescheduled to the seventeenth, I finally surrendered.

The irony of this experience was not lost on me: Unfolding within the wake of last summer’s fall have been untold spiritual riches I probably would have not experienced had I been well enough to attend my annual retreat on the New England coast. Perhaps next September …

 

 

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Who is this old woman, her back to us? Her mussed white hair gathered at the nape of her neck? Her plaid jacket dwarfing her sloping shoulders? Her ample pelvis, stretched at having birthed children? Her strong soiled feet? Her right knee cushioned by one of her down-at-the heels flats?

Where is she? Some industrialized city? Some Third World country? Our Own?

Why her recourse to underground murky waters?

She stoops over something–perhaps her washing. One item, already wrung out, sits in the pink basin to her left. Perhaps the lavender box contains soap powder. It is empty. Yet, there she is, on her knees, alone, her hands working on something in front of her. Hardship appear to be her familiar; it just is.

This story-scene, accessed from Photo Pin, jars my sensibilities. Should my circumstances change, will I humbly accept my lot?

I often wonder.

“I can’t!” says a towheaded three-year-old, leaning upon the handlebars of her blue bike and looking up at her mother. Her sneakers grip the asphalt path in the park, alive with birdsong. Ahead, breezes tease the leafing weeping willow like a violinist tuning his strings before a performance.

“Oh, but you can!” says her mother steadying the seat of her bike supported by training wheels. “You’ve done so well—this first time out. And look how far you’ve come—And we’re so close to home.”

She looks over his shoulder, then slowly grins. “Yeah!”

Is it not all about balance? Managing to schlep through challenges whenever and however they come?

In a deeper sense, it seems like life’s developmental challenges also require “training wheels:” parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, pastors, supervisors, counselors, doctors, lawyers—the list goes on. The secret is to know whom to approach when swamped by yet another glitch. Only with its resolution do we grow and become more helpful to others.

Indeed, such daily discipline enables practiced souls to rely upon Spirit of Truth to steady their spirits and lead them to their ultimate home. It works that way.

 

 

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