Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Reflection

Dear Christa—
Probably for the first time in the history of my life, I was thankful to defrost the freezer this morning—although I know that one day I’m going to turn head over heals into that thing.
I’ve often been relieved and satisfied when it was done, but never grateful to do it. Christopher asked me this summer what blogs I’d write about the lessons I’d learned from breaking my patella this summer. I told him “none” because I didn’t really learn anything other than that I’m easily annoyed—but I knew that already.
I have considered how very difficult it is for people who deal with afflictions on a daily basis, and I became annoyed that I was annoyed with such a petty and temporary inconvenience in light of my friends who deal with real pain and limitations that only do and only will continue to get worse from one year to the next.
I think, at times, those of us who do not deal with continual pain and afflictions make the assumption that those who do “adjust” to the harshness that has been dealt out to them. Yet, acceptance does not negate annoyance. To just wish you could go upstairs fast, like one used to. How could that ever not annoy you?
I received the sad news this week that one of my previous students had succeeded in taking his life. He was smart—perhaps one of the brightest students I’ve ever taught. He lived in constant, unbelievable pain. He was a mature and faithful Christian.
We just assume that in today’s world that doctors can fix anything, but it is not so. And, I’ve found I can neither condone nor condemn his decision. I only know that this world is sadder without him.
I know also that as health can bring forgetfulness, that I will one day forget to be grateful that I can go fast down the stairs. One year I will forget to be thankful to defrost the freezer. But maybe the forgetting will come slowly.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Redo, Please

Dear Christa—
Jokingly, I said to the orthopedic doctor this morning, “I think I’m healed.” And he surprised me when he replied, “I think you’re right. See your x-ray? It looks good…real good.”
At first I was so happy. Happy to unsnap that brace for the last time, knowing I’d never have to pull it up again because it wouldn’t stay in place. Happy I wouldn’t have to start school tugging and yanking on that annoying thing. Happy to finally after 6 weeks to bend my knee…at least as far as it would go.
But later, I felt like I wanted a redo. A redo of summer. My body feels like summer is just beginning, yet my brain reminds me that I start back to work next Thursday.
It’s not the first time I’ve wanted a redo.
I’ve taught classes that I’ve been grateful for another chance at the next year. I’ve visited places I’ve wanted to redo and do better because I love the people I’m with and they love me.
The next time I walk to Pike Market in Seattle, I’m hoping to see more than a park bench and ice on a swollen knee.
But, mostly I’ve wanted to redo relationships.
At times relationships ebb and flow like the tide at the ocean’s shore. Sometimes they’re so close, and the next thing you know they’re distant, and I’m wondering when and how things got that way.
Maybe I was inattentive. Maybe it wasn’t me at all. Maybe I will never know.
But, unlike summer, relationships can have a redo. It isn’t easy. It takes time, and it takes focus. It takes changing priorities. It takes cooperation. And desire. And prayer. And a bunch of other stuff.  
Then, one day, it’s healed. That relationship won’t look the same under an x-ray. In life, things happen we always wish hadn’t. But, it can be strong, and it can be good. Kind of like bending a knee that hasn’t bent in six weeks.
And maybe I can even dance by the first dance of autumn.