Well, to state the obvious, the past four plus weeks of my life didn’t look anything at all like I thought they would. There was a lot going on in January and early February—isn’t there always? I almost didn’t even go to the ER until someone wiser than me encouraged it, insisted even. I certainly was surprised to find myself in the ICU for a night let alone a few. I remember telling my wonderful ICU nurse that she didn’t understand, I needed to get back to my life right away. After all, I had my annual report to finish, a staff member I was in the midst of hiring and the annual meeting on Sunday, to name just a few. She stopped and looked right at me—through me even—and said with an authority that could not be ignored: you have bleeding in your brain and a concussion. It’s a big deal and not something to just brush aside. At this point nothing else matters but to give yourself the space and time to allow yourself to heal. Period.
And I have, thanks to the extraordinary support of Jim and the kids, as well as the wardens and the staff at St. Simon’s who have made that possible. What a blessing to have such incredible people picking up with love and excellence all the pieces I dropped as well as their own work and ministry. And I did completely let go, although I didn’t really have much of a choice given the state of things. I have been nourished by meals and cards, prayers and communion, time and space, the healing power of God. I confess, I had hoped by now to be 100%, but I’m grateful for the progress I have made. And I’m slowly stepping back into work as I can, interwoven with the commitment to rest and participating in the PT, OT and vision therapy that will assist me in healing the rest of the way.
This season of life has been one of spiritual growth and transformation as well, one that is continuing to unfold each day. Extended Sabbath times and seasons of suffering always are, in my experience. I often under appreciate the value of stopping, resting and recreating in my life, heavily influenced by our busy-obsessed culture but also drawn by a deep passion to the ministry I’m so blessed to have. Still, the pauses give spoken or musical phrases their meaning and power. Jesus not only had time in the wilderness at the beginning of his public ministry, but he regularly stopped what he was doing, as important as it was, to draw apart by himself to pray. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to when, but I imagine it was whenever he experienced the profound communion he shared with the Father becoming the least bit less accessible.
This week, someone shared this poem, Clearing, by Martha Postlewaite, that spoke powerfully to me:
Do not try to save
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there
until the song
that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to this world
so worth of rescue.
We are invited to share that same communion with God that welled up in Jesus. This ‘abiding’ is nourished by word and sacrament, by Sabbath and prayer, by opening ourselves to the Holy One within and beyond throughout every moment of every day. Not as a task but as a gift. When we live from that space, our lives are qualitatively different in ways beyond our imagining—and the song of our life that falls into our own cupped hands is gift and joy and fountain of love overflowing. How do you create the clearing in your own life? Hint: it doesn’t have to involve a trip to the ER, thankfully, but is perhaps a combination of little and big pauses all the way…