My friends to the south are celebrating Thanksgiving today. I have been thinking about praise and thanks lately. I have been missing in action on this page for just over a week now. With everything else I am sorting, through 8 days ago I tripped and broke my ankle. I thought I had badly sprained it so I walked on it from the time I got up until two days later. When I learned that I had broken it, my world crumbled a bit.
I am starting to feel as if I am running out of time and was looking forward to celebrating some special moments leading up to and during the holidays–more specifically what will probably be my last Christmas. The thought of being housebound instead for six to eight weeks devastated me. As the medical team that saw me that day listed the limitations of my break, I canceled one engagement after another in my head. Then I started to cry at the unfairness of it all. The person making my half-cast turned away and gave me a moment.
The other day I read these words in Jesus Always: You cannot worship me acceptably with an ungrateful heart. I had to do a check-in. In the first few hours of learning about the break I was distraught. An out-of-town friend was arriving shortly to spend the weekend with me and I would not even be at the airport to pick her up. Another friend was picking her up though and a number of things were falling into place. I was grateful to have someone with me for those first few days. Though it looked very different than originally planned our time together was a blessing, punctuated with prayer, love and service.
I was vacillating though as I realized how much more I needed to let go of in the next two months. On the Feast Day of the Presentation of Mary, I had awoken from my sleep and a dream of sorts–I was dancing with Mary, a folk dance of some kind, and she was laughing and smiling, sending me encouragement. I returned to that over the week, letting her joy chip away at my disappointment. I may not be kitchen dancing any time soon but Mary will dance for me. I keep trying to praise God through it all. I cannot understand this Mystery right now and my tears surprise me when they come.
A friend suggested that I watch Hallmark movies and tonight I plunked myself down in front of the TV and did just that. I caught the last hour of one and I found myself crying 45-minutes into it. The reminder to enjoy the present moment and be grateful for it undid me. I have everything I need on many levels. Dear ones have stepped up to the plate to provide for my needs. My freezer is full of meals for next week. My apartment is clean. My groceries are bought. My heart is full. In fact, my heart is overwhelmed with such gratitude that I cannot stop crying for that reason either.
I have so many challenging decisions to make in the time ahead. My hands are open to some degree but at the same time I realize that I am still clinging to earthly matters. As I have read Maccabees this week, I see the courage of pointing the way to faith. Some of my tears are that I am not yet ready to let go of everything earthly as much as I have had all this time to prepare. I remain happy to go but sad to leave. I am beginning to take steps to relinquish some of those earthly ties but this is not easy. As I said my goodbyes to my friend on Monday, we both cried. We have 35 years of friendship that have blessed us. We continue to learn and grow together, as I do with many of my circle. I look to the mother in Maccabees and want that faith at this stage to do the right things, to invest my energy in pointing to my Creator, and to love as vulnerably as I can while knowing that it will hurt.
I do not have an ungrateful heart but neither do I yet have the faith I desire. This will not make sense to many readers because many of you think I am like the mother in Maccabees but I do not agree. I wish I could surrender and trust more. When things no longer make sense, I must learn to stand in the great Mystery of it all and free fall as my social worker one time said. The good hands of God will catch me and I will be just where I am supposed to be.
When has your heart been ungrateful?
Does your faith point to God?
I am dancing, Creator, in my mind, allowing Mary to show me the way. May I trust in you as I continue to be stripped away to the bare necessities. Less of me, Beloved, and my plans and more of you and yours. Amen.