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“Auggh, such a sissy,” taunted my brother as his hard ball ricocheted off my catcher’s mitt, slammed into the swing seat across the yard, and rolled to a standstill on the ground. “You’ll never learn—No matter how hard I try to teach you!” Tears smarted my brown eyes. I wanted so hard to please him, even though any ball hurled in my direction caused me to hold out my hands, shut my eyes, and pray.

That experience still surfaces, but within different packaging. Instead of hard balls whistling through the air, word-projectiles sting, catch me off guard: They hurt, bad.

One example is the language wrapped around infanticide in our country. Last week legislators in the Vermont House voted 106 to 36 to legalize late-term abortions. H0057 states that women have the right to elective abortions up until birth and strips away rights of unborn babies. “A fetus shall not have independent rights under Vermont law,” so the law blithely states.

So what has happened to words, enervated of substance, homogenized for the unthinking? As long as words conform to the script of the image-makers, they pass for truth.

To return to the Vermont legislators and their heinous bill—I shudder. Every sentence evidences their jaundiced spiritual faculties, their woeful lack of imagination. Visualize their gall in spearheading this nascent effort to influence other state legislatures to do similarly.

Happily, I no longer shut my eyes and pray when nasty word-projectiles sting. They keep me fully awake and I must respond.

 

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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 …

 

 

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.

 

 

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