Have you ever wondered what life might be like if you could only use one arm? Yeah, me neither. But sometimes what you’ve never wondered comes to teach you anyway. After some rather expen er extensive tests in the fall, “we” (Doogie Howser’s younger orthopedic surgeon brother and I) decided surgery on my left elbow would be the best option. Some of you may remember a blog or two last spring where I shared about an injury in my teens that simply kept hanging around. Moving past the chronological and magical age of 55 seems to exacerbate certain previously and sometimes little noticed physical challenges. Thus my elbow. I had a cortisone shot last summer that for awhile was a miraculous elixir which I quickly pronounced the solution. It wasn’t pleasant but the results were remarkable, til they weren’t. When I then went to the referred ortho surgeon and he suggested another shot would not ultimately help, I gently disagreed. I told him that I had shared with my staff that if he didn’t give me a shot that day, I would throw up on him. He smiled tolerantly and asked what I’d had for breakfast so he could prepare. That was not exactly the answer I was expecting, but he seemed both fearless and confident in his decision so I continued to listen. Then an MRI with dye in my elbow – the doc told me I took it better than one of the Chiefs players, who shall remain nameless, he wouldn’t tell me which one either. I told him he probably says that to all the pastors who come in wielding the power of eternity with bad left elbows. He said not so much.
Bottom line was surgery which I did not want to schedule until after Christmas. I knew I couldn’t be trying to fix my hair one-armed with baby Jesus on the way! Who knew my New Year’s resolution would include increasing my patience by becoming an impatient patient who has had to both ask for and receive gracious help for the most ordinary things. It’s not an easy task for givers or receivers as many of you probably relate. My tendency toward the dramatic may not make it much easier. Whaaaat?!!? *snort* This may surprise you, but I possibly underestimated the recuperatory time and intensity. And maybe a little bit the amount of pain. It has certainly been tolerable, being around me? Maybe not so much. *wink* But God gives grace to the most stubborn of us and my spirit has eased a bit around what I’m not getting done as quickly or efficiently. Everything simply takes so much longer to do. Like typing. Someone in my life suggested that perhaps one of the learnings is that you can actually slow down, not get as much done each day, and the world will continue to turn. I simply say, “yeah, well, so far…”
And so I sit here, hunting and pecking on the keyboard, grateful that it’s my non-dominant hand and arm that is out of commission. Aware that my suffering is but a whisper of what so many experience and further aware that it’s temporary. Please know I’m not discounting the challenging reality for any of us of pain or suffering or dis-ability whether its short or long-term, what I am noting is the clarity in my awareness that folk deal with more challenges than most ever know and see, and meet them with a calm acceptance and giftedness of adapt-ability that is more courageous than is very often noted. We whirl thru the days in our own worlds, doing wonderful, and joyful, and mundane, and plain, and noticeably unnoticed things that make things work better and worse for those around us. Then sometimes when the taken-for-granted-whirling ability stops, we may learn what a rare life we live in the opportunity to know and be known in who we are rather than only by what we do and produce.
Perhaps the ability to see with great clarity, the lives and worlds of those around us, even without completely knowing the courage it takes for them to show up and be present, is a vision for moving into a New Year where a shut-down is inviting us to understand how many mostly unnoticed folks it takes for a nation to be served, kept safe, and offered help for simply living and being. I’m only partially shut-down. And my less-than-full working capacity does not have dire consequences for my financial stability. Perhaps it is important for me to see and recognize and name the struggle of those whose life and work are at a fragile place in these deepening quantity of days.
One of my staff members noted that if I was an angel without the use of my left wing, I’d only be able to fly in counterclockwise circles. Hmmmmm. There may be several issues with that, but be that as it may, if you hear a whirring of angel wing above you and it doesn’t seem to move away…just sayin’. Blessings of a minute or maybe two, of grace for you this day.