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.



Recently on Twitter a great post by @Kekris provided me with a perspective on peace and patience that I’ve been thinking about ever since and want to share. This was her tweet, a quote from Adel Bestavros:

“Patience with others is Love, Patience with self is Hope, Patience with God is Faith.”

When I can’t always feel love toward other people, I can still (nearly always) muster patience toward them, and it gives me peace to know that that is a step toward loving them. It makes me more willing to try.

Patience with myself – I’d always perceived patience with myself more as acceding to a tendency to procrastination, and never viewed it as something positive. Maybe if I can see it as Hope, I can loosen that particular fight.

And patience with God reminds me of my previous post on “waiting for God,” which must be about the same thing because both suggest the quiet assurance (read: Faith) that God will come through, even if it takes a while.

How do you see these definitions of patience in your own life?


Above All, Trust

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin is known in several arenas: paleontology, geology, philosophy, theology – but it’s possible that his most widely known writing is a poem from a prayer book entitled Hearts on Fire: Praying with the Jesuits (Loyola Press, 2005).

The poem is “Patient Trust” and it begins: “Above all, trust in the slow work of God….” This is hard for most of us to do. We think not only that it’s all about us, but also that it’s entirely up to us. This is not to suggest that we don’t have responsibilities. Among our responsibilities is to determine what we want to do with our lives, to get very clear about it, and to set about doing what we can see to do toward it. But if we have envisioned well, the goal will be bigger than what we can achieve by ourselves, and trusting God becomes part of our job.

The poem continues: “We are quite naturally inpatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.” Boy, do we hate the idea that it might take a very long time.

Part of the benefit of trusting is that we aren’t alone in enduring however long it takes. But there is another part too that has to do with allowing the ripening that must occur. You will be a different person at the end than you are today, and the “passing through” is the sacred shaper of who you will become. The only way to “get” that is by trust.