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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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What will it be this year: rows of marigolds, geraniums, wave petunias? Or perhaps dwarf zinnias or impatiens or cornflowers? My tools are ready. My hands itch to prepare the soil and begin planting the raised garden spanning the front of my bungalow.

While I mulled over the selection of varied annuals, I happen to come across a novel about another garden, a four-by-four-foot patch of soil hidden among rubble left in the aftermath of the London blitz; it was tended by Lovejoy Mason, a heartsick eleven-year-old, her black and white dog-toothed coat barely covering her lanky frame. Abandoned by her mother to the care of an aspiring restaurateur and his wife, the hardened Lovejoy swipes a packet of cornflower seeds and, with passion, sets about growing them. Over a span of three months she draws the protection of Tip Malone, thirteen, head of the “sparrows,” the name given to the street kids. She also attracts the compassion of a wealthy spinster, plagued by lifelong ailments. Buoyed by these relationships and the flowering of the cornflowers, Lovejoy emerges from a mean-spirited waif with pale eyes and complexion to a robust presence to be reckoned with.

Such is the multi-faceted novel, An Episode of Sparrows (1955), written by the prolific British author, Rumer Godden.

Gardening still tends wounds.

 

 

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“It feels like you shut down, in utero, when four months old. Perhaps related to the chronic fatigue you told me about. The rheumatoid arthritis, too.” Before my itching brown eyes, her words shimmered and morphed into the ceiling adorned with crown molding and a crystal fixture. Shame crazed me into my accustomed crawl space where I became invisible, breathless. Someone else knew my secret. It was about Mother.

Anna Maria Kiddon, an energy therapist, continued moving her hands above my body, as I lay upon her therapy table in her St. Louis, MO, home. There were more findings that wintry morning in 1988, but I could not retain them. While scrambling into my coat and scarf, I barely heard her invitation to return.

Slowly, I picked my way down the brick walk toward my car, parked beneath a skeletal oak with shrunken leaves, my inflamed knees knifing each step. No birds anywhere. It began to sleet. Panting, I drove home, hovering over the heater. I was fifty-three yeas old, in the second year of my marriage.

 

It would take decades to unpack the implications of that evaluation.

This Prologue opens my second memoir, Limping AlongFollowing the Dark Face of God into the Light. (August 2015). It is now available on Amazon.

 

 

Limping Along front cover low-res copy

Available on Amazon

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