Brokenness and Healing

 Yesterday was day 53 since the accident and surgery, it was also the day that I went in to see the surgeon who performed the repair. It ended up being a long day as it included getting more x-rays, then visiting the doctor, then having a PT session later, but all in all a decent day. The fracture is healing and that can be seen on the x-ray, just a small area that has yet to fully fuse. The various rods and pins all seem to be in place and doing their respective jobs in keeping the hip in place and helping it to heal. The PT has me now doing more weight bearing exercises, that means basically shifting weight onto the injured leg and doing these movements to build up the hip muscles. Yes, it does make the hip sore, however, it is all part of the process. Healing brokenness requires some discomfort, whether it is physical, emotional or spiritual.  I’ve been giving some thought to the healing process, not only my own physical healing but also for my own spiritual and emotional healing. There’s not much I can do to speed up this process and all the prayers I shoot off each day for a quick resolution have not been answered, at least not in the way I would like them to be answered. Then again, I know that God is not a fairy godmother who grants us our every wish and desire, sometimes we need to travel into the valley and experience the darkness before we can fully appreciate the light. Quick fixes never give us the result we need, a quick return won’t help, myself or the people around me, especially my family. 

 As I look about I see how our own brokenness continues to hurt and divide rather than seek the healing we all need. Even I have a long road ahead not only the physical healing but also the emotional and psychological healing. Getting past my own anger at being hit in the first place and then taking that first ride out on the road, when the time comes. No quick fix but a determination not to let this incident define who I am and how I will live my life. 

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Grandkids and Life.

  Some may wonder what life is all about. Cynical adults whose youthful dreams have been replaced by the daily drudgery of cubicle workplaces or shattered love lives can get so mired in the constant, what if’s. It’s no wonder that so many seek relief in ways that are, not only, physically shattering but also soul shattering. I could have easily just laid down several weeks ago and allowed my accident to define and shape my life. The physical therapy is hard, it hurts, it needs to be done daily, it is so much easier to lay on the couch, eat vast quantities of junk food and allow myself to sink in the quicksand of self pity.   Four years ago Teagan Christine Lomas burst onto the scene. A bundle of energy that has a mind of her own and a smile that lights up the world. Having grandkids is a joy that is hard to describe. They’re infectious energy and curiosity, they’re willingness to explore and push the boundaries, they’re deep, childlike trust in the world around them. Just thinking of them brings a smile to my face and sometimes a tear to my eyes. They are all truly a gift and one that keeps giving each and every day. When I get down thinking that I won’t get any better, when the exercises just plain hurt, and the hip feels cranky and sore, I just think about those kids and what they mean to me. If anything they deserve to have a grandfather who doesn’t give up even when faced with an insurmountable challenge. 

 In a week, my oldest one, Caitlin will be turning twelve, it seems like only yesterday that she was celebrating her fourth birthday. I cannot imagine what my life would be like without her and the same holds true for all of them. Caitlin, Travin and Teagan each in their own way have wormed their way into the depths of my heart. My hip, well, it will heal. I will be able to get back on my bicycle, I will be able to do the things I enjoy again but most of all I will be able to be here for those three. 

 Frederick Buechner, says, and I paraphrase, that a writer should write about what they are passionate about. It’s not so much about trying to write in a way to be successful or adored but writing to express those things that give meaning to life as we negotiate the twists and turns of this journey. I cannot say where my own writing will take me or if it will mean anything to anyone, but really, I’m not writing for everyone, I’m writing for three important people. If I can leave anything with them I hope it’s that willingness to try, to dream, to never give up hope even when all seems impossible. Maybe that is what life is all about, what we share, how we love and pass along to those who follow our well worn path. 

Day 40

 40 days, 40 years, 40 a rather significant number in Scripture. The Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the promised land, Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. The number 40 is used to designate times of trial and tribulation, a time when one is tested, entering into the fires that either destroy or temper the soul. Today is day 40 since the accident and the surgery. It has been a journey that has tested my faith, my emotions, my own feelings of self worth.  From the moment when I hit the pavement to today, I have been reflecting on how this has affected me as a person. This down time has given me the opportunity to read more and spend time in quiet meditation while also working hard to get back to where I was prior to this happening. Along the way I have entered into the darkness of my own self, a melancholy feeling, doubting that I will ever be normal to the elation of riding on a simple, stationary recumbent bike in the physical therapists gym. 
 I just finished reading Kent Haruf’s novel Benediction yesterday and I was struck by statement from the much troubled pastor Rob Lyle, who is out one night just observing the world and homes around him, when asked why he’s doing this he speaks of “the precious ordinary.” In his darkest part of life, his congregation falling apart, a spouse who wants to leave him and a son suffering in his own type of hell he sees the “precious ordinary” all around. People living their lives, trying their best to be good, failing at times but still in the eyes of the Holy their lives are precious a true sacrament of love. 

 So many people rush around, they have bucket lists and grand ideas for the future and all the while they miss the “precious ordinary” that is all around them. They fail to see one another, they fail to see that which is right in front of their faces as they reach out to a future that is simply an illusion. Being broken has given me time to see the precious ordinary, to realize that it’s not about bucket lists or having it all but in the simple touch of a loving hand, in the gift of a smile, the pleasure in doing the most ordinary of tasks. 

 These 40 days have gone by quickly, they have reminded me of what is really important in my life. The future I reached out for prior to this was just a mist that dissipated as quickly as fog when the sun rises, yet I have received so much more and though I regret the losses I rejoice in the gains. Life, in all its forms, is meant to be lived in the here and now and not in the fantasy of a future that may never arrive. In the evening, when it is dark and I lay in my bed I reach out and touch the arm of my loving wife, Jane. I realize how close I came to losing that 40 days ago, that my life, my one precious wild life, could have come to an end and I would have lost that love. 

 What will the next 40 days bring? I have no idea, what I do know is that I will live as well as I can in the moment, in my own thoughts, my own meditations, in my deep love for family and the clear knowledge that even the ordinary life is extraordinary. 

  

History is Important

 History, in our age where math and science are considered the top subjects in schools, we are in danger of losing our grasp of history. The story of our past, where we came from points to where we are headed and we endanger that by not being aware of historical trends. All of this rhetoric surrounding the Confederate battle flag is an example of how we have lost our sense of the historical significance of what that flag represents and means, especially for African-Americans whose ancestors were enslaved. We also discredit others when we fail to recognize our own complicity in the darkness of slavery that had deep roots here in New England. Only recently have some begun to shed a light on this sordid part of our history something that we need to be open and honest about, without being reactive.  The argument is always based on states rights, yet throughout our history as a nation, there has been tension between the states and federal government as we seek to interpret what was on the minds of those who wrote the Constitution. Watching an advertisement for the U.S. Army during the 4th of July it’s stated that “on July 4, 1776 we declared that all people were created equal” but really the Declaration states that “all men are created equal,” and in the beginning of this republic those men were the landholders and they were all white. Women, people of color, Native Americans, well, equality would have to wait. 

 Many seem to use history like they use the Bible, they take a few selected quotes that affirm their position and use them to justify their treatment of others. You have to admit it is interesting to see how many people on Facebook have suddenly taken up the cause of the Confederate battle flag, and yet were silent all through the years of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Nothing was ever mentioned on the news, FOX, CBS, NBC, ABC, none of them covered anything related to a war that tore this nation apart, and if we’re honest, still has deep systemic roots in the fabric of the nation.  

 In looking at how the British have been remembering the First World War and recently the 200th anniversary of Waterloo and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, they not only remember but honor those who gave their lives. Americans passed the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, with only Maryland even acknowledging it with a special license plate. A war where our nations Capitol was occupied by foreign troops and the White House burned down and we forget? 

 Everyday, those of the “greatest generation” the people who went through the depression and fought in the Second World War, are dying off. Will we remember or forget? Will we remember on April 6, 2017, that the United States entered into the Great War 100 years earlier? Our history is important, it’s our story both the good and the not so good, to forget any of it is to do a disservice to future generations.

Reflections 

 I usually don’t tackle controversial “religious” topics in my blog, after all there are smarter folks blogging their little hearts out telling the world how they came to their unique revelations. I’m not so clever nor is my ego big enough to assume I have the answers to life’s burning questions. Yet, with all that has been happening lately, the shooting in South Carolina, the recent Supreme Court decisions and the general dissatisfaction both in politics and politicians, I have decided to write some of my own thoughts. Disclaimer, if you think you are going to get some kind of quotable statement, or expect to be awed by my insight, then you are in for disappointment and you should just go back to lurking about on Facebook. For the most part this is mostly for myself, to help me fully understand my own inner thinking and to sort out where I stand.

 As an Episcopalian and a priest in this church I have always felt that the theological ground beneath me was more like quicksand rather than solid ground. So much has changed in my brief time being an ordained person and just when you get settled into a new place suddenly the ground beneath shifts and you are taken on a dizzying ride like having a case of vertigo. Now here I must make my own stand clear, I do support the recent ruling on same sex marriage and as a Christian and a priest I do not feel threatened by any “big brother” coming by and forcing me to do anything I am unwilling to take on. In fact, when it comes to marriage, and here is a point of contention, I would rather have folks go down to a JP or town hall, get hitched legally as the government requires, then if they desire come to the church to have their union blessed. In other words, let’s get out of the business of signing, legal, government forms, which we only do for marriage and no other sacramental rite. 

 Anyway, I digress just a bit because my real concern is how we, as Episcopalians, who will quote our Baptismal Covenant to defend our progressive side, will remain just as open and welcoming to those who disagree. In reading any poll that is taken it seems that over 1/3 of people disagree with the recent actions. In some cases there has been a call to civil disobedience in not recognizing the Supreme Courts decision. Now, 1/3 might not seem like a big deal, but consider baseball, a player who can get a hit one out of every three times at the plate, will be rewarded with a multi-year, multi millions of dollars contract. It’s a big deal.

 Being Episcopal, being Anglican, we have always walked that fine line we like to call the “middle way.” But, like someone once said, “sitting on the middle of a fence gets uncomfortable” and we are now in that place of being uncomfortable. Our Baptismal Covenant calls us to “Seek and serve Christ in all people and to respect the dignity of ever human being” not just some, or those who at agree with us but with “all” people. That’s where it gets uncomfortable, that’s where we find ourselves on the road with Jesus to the Cross. 

 I have thought what would be my reaction if I came to church one bright, Sunday morning to find the good folks of Westboro Baptist protesting our progressive, and in their minds, heretical stance? Guess the only thing to do would be to process across the street with the Cross being carried high and offer to them what we offer to everyone, the sacrament which has been handed down to us on that night in the upper room. Love, the sacrificial love of Christ, who forgave those who crucified him, calls us also into that uncomfortable place of being his disciples. Our Presiding Bishop Elect, Michael Curry, tells us we are all part of the Jesus Movement and if that’s the case then we can expect the ground beneath us to continue to quake and move as we seek to make Christ’s love for all a reality and not just a dream. 

Day 30

July 5, 2015 marks the thirtieth day since the accident that left me with a broken hip. Thirty days where I have fought hard to regain my strength and mobility so that one day I will be back cycling. The ice bag is a constant companion especially after standing for a long time or from doing my exercises as I try to keep any swelling to a minimum. I have come to that place where I recognize that it is going to take time to get back to some kind of normalcy, what that new normal will be only time will tell. It’s kind of like taking a journey where you not only don’t know where you are headed but you also don’t have a clear route, you just go based in part on faith.  I am being a good boy, even when I get frustrated. I do my leg exercises, designed to both strengthen the leg and keep the muscles from atrophying. The PT’s who have visited keep me on track and I have also gotten into the habit of doing these a couple of times a day. Somehow, it gives me the sense that I am making progress. That’s something else that is interesting, this progress thing. Sure, I am now able to get about on a cane rather than crutches and other people see my determination and ability to move around, but from the inside, progress is a slow moving machine. Feeling my muscles contracting and moving while I try to rest, feeling that deep ache and then getting paranoid about those titanium rods. Are they staying in place? Would hate for them to kind of shift in some no so good way.

There is also that feeling stuck thing. I look out my window and see folks jogging, walking, riding their bikes and I sit there just wanting to get out. Last night, watching fireworks on the television is no substitute for seeing them live, then again by the time they were shown I was well into another fitful nights sleep. Then, I remembered that today, 100 years ago, July 5, 1915 my Great-Uncle James Travis boarded a troop transport that would ultimately take him and many others to battlefields of Gallipoli. I can only imagine what he may have been thinking, he and so many other men from Manchester, going off to fight for King and Country. Kitchener’s army, all volunteers, all ready to face the enemy in a war that some had predicted would end by Christmas of 1914, but instead had settled into a war of attrition along miles and miles of trenches.

Life is a series of waiting’s, we always seem to be waiting for something. When I was in the Army, it was “hurry up and wait,” run here and there only to watch the time tick away all the while wondering why.

Day  27

 Well, I am now into day 27 since the accident. It has been a long haul getting to where I am today. The physical therapists have been great in getting me to trust my injured right leg more and even though it does ache, I’m not slacking in what I need to accomplish. Actually, today was a sort of milestone as I have now graduated to using a cane rather than one crutch. That is better because one crutch is a bit awkward plus the cane forces me to walk straighter and not lean so much.  Yet, even after 27 days there is a part of me that still cannot believe what has happened. I keep expecting to wake up from this nightmare fully restored but then the reality strikes and I realize that this is not a dream at all. It’s hard to go from being actively engaged to being sedentary for the most part and I have to admit I get a bit upset. Learning to accept the injury and taking the time and effort to heal is requiring my total attention, even to the most minor of details. Walking is not simply putting one foot in front of the other, walking becomes new again, learning how to go up and down stairs, watching for any imperfection on the sidewalks and in the house, so as not to trip. 

 I think that is where yesterday’s blog on the journey part 1 is coming from, that I am in a desolate place, looking for that green grove of trees, seeking the answers to my deepest questions. Who is that vision standing in front of my character? What does she represent and will she have the answers or just point deeper into the forest? All I can say is that this story like any other, will take on a life of its own. The people and places will determine where this journey will go, I am just a conduit through which this story flows, as I am a conduit in the life I lead.