Thinking ahead to March, Ash Wednesday is on March 5th, beginning the season of Lent for another year. Lent, with its 40 days, gets me thinking about Jesus being tested in the desert, and the 40 years of wilderness wonderings of the Israelites, a time of struggle and testing for them. I think that for me, Lent began early, in Advent, on Tuesday, December 10th when I slipped on black ice in front of my house and badly damaged my shoulder.
Actually, really for me it began on Monday December 9th, when I heard the terrible news of the death of Vicar Dave’s son, Jeremiah Keller. With my son Micah having become a close friend of Jeremiah, Mary and I decided not to tell him the sad news until Micah had gotten a couple more exams under his belt. So on Tuesday around 5pm we shared the news. We all felt very emotional about it. I’d have to say I wasn’t tracking too well when at 6pm I was walking to my car to come into church council, not seeing that black ice.
People have said to me that I could have found a less severe way of getting out of going to the church council. Now I don’t believe that God placed the black ice at the end of my driveway to fall on. I don’t believe that it was God’s plan that I slipped on the ice that night. But I do believe that God can make good come out of the midst of suffering, and I have already seen some signs of that. (And I’m very thankful that my shoulder hit the concrete and not my head.)
This journey has had many firsts; my first ride in an ambulance, my first hospitalization as an adult, my first major surgery, the first time I have taken pain meds for more than a week. Being in a hospital bed got me thinking a lot about the many times I have visited people in hospital, and also how dependant it is to be hospitalized. (I was in Rhodes Hall in OSU Hospital and while there I thought a lot about Ruth Serr who had spent 33 days in Rhodes Hall a few months before me. Praise God that after a long rehab she is now back home at Trillium.) I learned in hospital and since about dependence, having to rely on others, needing to have patience.
I learned quite a lot from being pushed around Chicago in a wheelchair for 3 wintery days by my very fit son Micah. I have been constantly moved by how caring people have been. I have requested ‘prayer bears’ for quite a few people at Ascension, and now I have one of my own that sits on the tray table next to the recliner where I sleep each night. I have a shoe box that is almost full of cards, and many messages on Facebook. I really know God’s care through God’s people, and I have been thinking that it must be so much harder not to know that kind of care. One could feel much more alone. (Thank you so much for your prayers and your caring shown in so many ways.) Another first for me as an adult is not being able to drive for a long period, and needing to rely on others to take me places.
I have been thinking a lot about limits. Before my fall, I think that my life was getting somewhat out of balance, with trying to do too many things, not delegating as well as I could. That has changed with the fall. I have had to slow down considerably, and others have stepped in and stepped up. I’m so thankful for Vicar Dave who has taken on most of the preaching. (I am still suffering from fatigue, and not being able to concentrate for long periods. It may still be some weeks before I will attempt to write and deliver a sermon). I talked recently with my counselor/therapist about the need I have to be productive. It’s a kind of inner work ethic. (Sometimes I hear the term ‘American work ethic’) It feels like I am not achieving like I used to, and I am having to adjust to that. I’m thankful for the graceful responses I hear from many others about the healing journey, that healing takes time, and sleep. I’m thankful for the opportunity to be working during the time of healing.
I have been thinking a lot about all the adjustments people at Ascension have had to make with health issues, and other challenges and losses. In my case I have been told that if I do all the exercises the physical therapist suggests, that I will get full movement of my shoulder and arm back, in about 12 months. I realize that for some there is not the hope of full restoration, or even much restoration at all. I’m also thinking about about chronic conditions that are ongoing, and permanent disabilities. I’m thankful for Jesus who I really believe holds us on our life journey, and I’m thankful for Jesus’ people who hold us and encourage us.
I’m thankful to Jesus helping us with and through the various changes that come our way in life. I’m thankful for the hope of life forever with Jesus, where he makes all things new, with no more black ice, and the brokenness of the human journey transformed. And I’m really thankful to God for the gift of life itself. I have a renewed appreciation for that. I’m thankful to the person who donated part of their leg (tibia cadaver bone) to help rebuild my shoulder.
’m thankful to all who God uses to help bring healing to others, including my surgeon who I think could have his own comedy show. I’m thankful that when he looks at my x-rays he says – “Now that was a good job, and it is healing well.” I’m thankful to my wonderful spouse Mary for her kindness and care, and all of my family and friends. Lent is a time for reflection on change - changes that have come our way without us asking for them, and changes that we can make to celebrate life more fully, and bring the gift of life to others in a fuller way.
May our gracious God bless you with a purposeful and empowering Lent.
- Pastor Tim
OCTOBER SCRIPTURE READINGS
October 5—Matthew 21:33-46
October 12—Matthew 22:1-14
October 19—Matthew 22:15-22
October 26—John 8:31-36
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