When Life Gets Away from You

On the first day of this month, my partner took a bad spill and ended up with a fractured radial bone in her left wrist. It took only one look at her arm to know that the break was a bad one and the bones would have to be set. We went immediately for X-rays, and the first doc who saw her was actually more concerned about the possibilities of concussion from the bump on the head than he was about the wrist. But the orthopedic surgeon could be dissuaded from surgery only when she learned about my partner’s five heart stents and the blood thinner she regularly takes.

So, purple was chosen for the cast color, and Christopher, who applied the cast, turned out also to be in charge of setting the broken bones. At the last possible minute before the cast turned to stone, he grasped the wrist and squeezed with all his might, expertly aligning the bones for healing.

Since then, I’ve been my partner’s left arm, helping with dressing, helping more with the dogs, doing more in the kitchen, doing her hair every morning and washing it every few days, etc. These may be labors of love, but they are labors nonetheless and they have pressed in on my available time for things like writing regular blog posts.

The question is: what do you do when life gets away from you. First, it’s a stretch to claim that my life has gotten away from me; I have simply become busier. But second, it’s been a good exercise in examining how to pursue everyday spirituality in situations like this one.

I’ve found that when patience seems to be in short supply, prayer is not. I am reminded every day that patience is Item #4 in the fruit of the Spirit [love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control] (Galatians 5:22-23). These nine gifts are our birthright when we choose to be children of God, and it helps to bring them to the surface in our lives when we repeat the verses over and over from memory or reading aloud from Scripture.

My everyday spirituality has also been enhanced by continuing my meditation practice. When I sink into the chair to begin the twenty minutes of absolute quiet, I know that I know that all is well in my world.

This has been a painful break for my partner, and it hurts to see her in pain, even after more than two weeks. The cast will be on a while yet and if the pain is lessening, it is doing so at a very slow pace. Meanwhile, I can make it part of my everyday spirituality to look for and find the ways to be helpful.

           

Bible-reading as Mystery

I might as well go ahead and admit that Bible-reading is a mystery to me. Last week I commented that I never try to defend the Bible, nor press it upon people, but I still return to it every morning and usually find reason for peace. The peace is part of the mystery, as is my urge to spend a little time daily with Scripture. Some days I hurry through, some days it doesn’t seem to amount to much, some days my perspective feels forever changed.

Several years ago I attended a presentation by Bishop John Shelby Spong, a retired bishop of the Episcopal Church well known in Christian circles for writing books that seem to be deeply critical of the Church and the Bible – books like Why Christianity Must Change or Die. The main thing I recall from his talk is his deep reverence for the Bible, despite his controversial public position on it. He, too, continued to find solace in returning to the pages of Scripture.

More currently, there is The Christian Century, which features in each issue a column entitled “Living by the Word.” In the 16 October 2013 edition, Scottish writer Sara Maitland, after discussing lessons to be learned from the scoundrel Jacob, gives this frame of reference for Bible-reading:  “So when we go to the Bible we have to go alert and cunning about the fact that it is not a single text. It may very well all be inspired, but it is inspired to a variety of purposes and therefore comes in a variety of genres and calls for a variety of reading skills.”

I like her suggestion that readers be “alert and cunning” in approaching the Bible. I don’t expect that such an attitude will expunge the mystery; I wouldn’t be surprised if it deepens it.