Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Best-Laid Plans...

If I were in charge of the
weather, I would create a
whole spate of days like
today- temperatures in
the upper seventies, low
humidity, lots of sun and
just enough breeze to
elicit a gentle melody
from the windchimes on
my front porch. Which
is where is I have been
spending most of today
with my trusty laptop,
researching material for
the next three sermons I
will be preaching...eating
a bit of lunch...listening
to the birds whose songs
are occasionally
punctuated by
the voices of kids passing
by on the street. And
now comes the refrain of
the ice cream truck,
making its way slowly down Council Street. Just a perfect day.
   Good job, God...not that you need my consent or assent or
approval, but I am just incredibly appreciative for a day like this...a
day on which I can forget about hip pain and grief pain and anything
sad, and be simply overwhelmed and engulfed by the beauty and
wonder and perfection surrounding and enfolding me.
   We've been through a lot together these past several months,
God, and there have been days when I truly despaired, days on which
the sun seemed hidden by unbreaking clouds...days on which I hurt
so badly, both physically and psychically that I could only lie on my
bed and cry. The pain of the death of my sister, Kathy, after her
long and difficult and recurring bouts with cancer...and on the heels
of that, the exacerbation of right hip and lower back pain with
which I have been living for more than four years but which had been
quite manageable- until March.
   I know, I know, God...I really am not a good patient- probably
because I am not patient... though we've been working on that for
about fifty years, haven't we? But I finally listened to my aching
body and paid a visit to my doctor. After x-rays and a consult with
an orthopedic physician with more x-rays, I was eventually sent to a
patient- extremely patient- physical therapist. Kevin worked with
me for six weeks as we experimented with various exercises to
see which would help and which would make the pain worse. But
through it all, I had the deadline of a trip long planned to East
Africa with three friends, set to commence on May 14th. Our goal-
Kevin's and mine- was to get me to the place where I would be able
to make the long flights (two hours, then six hours, then eight
hours) from Greensboro to Atlanta to Amsterdam to Nairobi, Kenya,
since sitting for any length of time was my biggest problem.
   Who was it that said, "Life is what happens when you're making
other plans?" John Lennon, perhaps? And then there is my own
personal favorite: "Humans plan; God laughs." Well, God, I wasn't
laughing when I had to tell my three traveling companions that I
was not going to be able to travel in way, no how. I was
up to being able to sit for about two hours, but that was it...and
walking for any distance or time simply wasn't yet in the cards
for me. And my sweet friends chose to cancel, rather than go
without me.
   Sitting at my computer, canceling all of our many plans, was
so, so difficult. And even worse was contacting all of the many
friends we had planned to see in Kenya and Rwanda, friends
we had last visited in 2013, two of whom had been married in
the meantime, two babies born, and other children grown from
toddler to little boy, from little boy to big boy, from boy to
young man. You saw those tears, didn't you, God? Saw my deep,
heartfelt sadness and perhaps wept with me? I know I was not
alone in that pain.
   But...I took the time off from the church which I had planned
for the trip and which was covered anyway. And my dear friend,
Mae, came from Florida to spend the three weeks we would have
been traveling with me. And though we did many things together,
we mostly did nothing...just talked and ate and binge-watched
some TV shows... slept late and cooked together and ate out and
drank wine in the evening. She helped with tasks around the house
which were still challenging for me (like vacuuming) and we had
the joy of having TIME together, something which seems all too
elusive in this busy, busy world of ours.
   And gradually, as I continue to do my exercises, as I get out to
take short walks (up to about 40 minutes now), as I let the healing
of passing time happen, I am feeling more and more like myself.
Ibuprofen is no longer a daily part of my regimen, thankfully,
though I still have some nights when the peculiar numbness in my
right foot and lower leg wakens me and I am up for several hours
in the middle of the night. But we've been spending that time
together, haven't we, God? as I breathe and meditate and pray
in my journal with my markers and colored I stretch
into yoga poses and follow my breath, sending it into the hurting
places to bring soothing, to relax tense muscles.
   My "plans" for 2016 have certainly been set awry, God of love,
and you know that. And yet, I can sit here on this glorious day,
this perfect day, this wondrous day, and breathe a heartfelt
"thank you" for all that I am, for all that is my life. (But just so
you know, God, I will probably kvetch again when the weather
turns hot and muggy and I have to close all the windows I have
flung open today and turn on the air conditioner...just warning
you in advance, though I'm sure you've been through that with
me countless times before.)

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