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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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From my study window a soggy breeze weights a solitary leaf falling from the towering oak in my side yard and hurtles it toward the spent grass. Interminable moments pass until it is lodged within a muddy crevice, its bronzed face weeping, unattended, susceptible to even more desiccation.

Such begins autumn’s necessary stripping with its obvious parallels to human life—The outworn must give way to the new.

However, last July this truth imploded within my body as I lay on my dining room floor, my foot caught within the tubing of my vacuum cleaner. Howling pain bit chunks into my left shoulder, elbow, and hip. Unlike the solitary leaf, I needed help and fast.

It came: paramedics, surgery, rehab, physical and occupational therapy. Indeed, hundreds of helpers knocked on my door, each with their piece of the puzzle that would eventually restore me to wholeness.

Slowly, my body-mind-spirit began to knit through the prescribed exercises, that is, until mid-August when gnarly pain emerged in my hip. Multiple modifications of the stretches only worsened matters and I was back on pain medications. My suspicions mounted: the surgery had failed. I’m waiting to learn what will happen next.

 

 

Ten minutes from home. Roiling clouds obscure the wan sun like a finicky lover. A breeze from the south assuages the nape of my neck, sticky with perspiration. Mist befogs my glasses, moistens my cheeks.

I’m going to get wet, perhaps very wet. In that split second my irritation morphs into acceptance: everything changes.

Around my fish-boots, rain polka-dots the sidewalk, then splatters into rivulets coursing along the curb toward the sewer. I relax into the wetness; its tentacles envelop me within their chill. I begin to laugh as I shelter beneath maples and oaks and catch my breath. It’s been awhile since I was drenched.

Then out into the open, the last stretch of my walk, and home. My scalp tingles, my chin drips, my shirt clings to my back, my pants etched with wavy designs—a waterlogged human. My laughter feels like orange sherbet.

“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” So said the gifted country singer and song writer, Roger Dean Miller.

Is this not also how grace works in our psyches? Always proffered, but awash in distractions?

 

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