Tag Archives: car accident

epiphany: A trail of crumbs

Waiting

“I have fallen in love many a time in the fall of the year. I mean those times when body and soul are revived and, in the keen clear air of autumn after a hot exhausting summer, I feel new strength to see, to ‘know’ clearly, and to love, to look upon my neighbor and to love. Almost to be taken out of myself. I do not mean being in love with a particular person. I mean that quality of in-loveness that may brush like a sweet fragrance, a sound faintly heard, a sense of the beauty of one particular human being, or even one aspect of life. It may be an intuition of immortality, of the glory of God, of his presence in the world. But it is almost impossible to put into words. The point is that it is general rather than particular, though it may come as a reminder, this flash of understanding, of recognition, with the reading of a particular book, or hearing some strain of music.

“It is tied up in some way also with the sense of hope, and an understanding of hope. How can we live without it, as a supernatural virtue, ‘hoping against hope,’ during this dark period of violence and suffering through the world?

“I am bold in trying to express the inexpressible, to write of happiness, even of joy that comes, regardless of age, color, or condition of servitude, to us all. Regardless of failures, regardless even of the sufferings of others. If we did not have this hope, this joy, this love, how could we help others? How could we have the strength to hold on to them, to hold them up when they are drowning in sorrow, suffocating in blackness, almost letting go of life, life which we know with a sure knowledge is precious, which is something to hold to, be grateful for, to reverence.” The Reckless Way of Love, Notes on Following Jesus, by Dorothy Day.

I am in a season of waiting. Midwifery Grad school application out of my hands, last home midwifery birth logged in the national data base, phone off at night. I watch the world around me settle in for the long wait. The rains chase the last leaves down. The fog whispers of mysteries unknown. It is out of my hands.

My hands…these hands which doctor after doctor said would never catch a baby again. I told one specialist that my job is to hold the space, it is the mama’s to receive their babies. They gave me all they knew, these specialists. Words, so many words, statistics, prognosis, bathed in fear. Finally, I knew it was time. Time to settle into the work of healing. Healers are a rare breed. They speak in terms of listening, of knowing, of trusting. These are not the “faith” healers of my childhood, quick to lay on hands, with long and pious prayers. Those asked about private sins, insinuating that rheumatoid in a child must come from something more. They closed their eyes to the sin right in front of them, never daring to look into the eyes of that child, to wonder…

And so I sought out healers that listen for the old ways. They place needles and ask for wisdom. They extend their hands, for light and love to flow into tissues that have lost their message center. Three years now, nearly, since that driver ran a stop sign and sent us airborne; since the doctor said, “you will never practice midwifery again…”

Today, I wait again. The application packet out of my hands into liminal space, the space between. We are here in the old forest, and my senses awaken to memories, those of a child whose nights were full of terror, in the pacific northwest. The ancient trees hold their knowing, just as they did so many years ago.

There are others who wait tonight, in makeshift tents of plastic tarps. Their journey full of trauma, both in the leaving and the coming, and the in between. No country willing to receive them. Even a caravan could not magnify their voices enough to stir compassion. It is out of their hands.

Advent is a season of waiting. It is a season thick with silence. Four hundred years of it, broken only by one voice to one woman. And now she is waiting, enlarged by the secret. Eyes look, voices whisper, judgments pass from ear to ear. Even the government seems to be against her. Who wants to join a caravan on a long road, full of dust and bandits? Especially when a baby is coming.

Yes.

A baby is coming.

And in the middle of that dark night, hope stirred.

Perhaps it still stirs, even today.

The Lenten Writings: a hidden poem

(from the healing of the man born blind: John 9:1-41)

First a path made of clay,

then a path made of grass,

then a path of forget-me-nots

that runs straight to the sea.

My heart of shells.

My heart of flesh and blood.

My heart – a bruised star torn from your sky –

This is the one I bring to you, my God,

As a humble offering.

Your name is Truth,

Your Word is love.

My Jesus, teach me the small truths like:

“I love you, mother!”

“I understand you, my son.”

“I pray for you all.”

When the small flower

Sends her small truth

Into the world

I don’t think of the fallen cardinal

Covered with a newspaper

Or the fists that knocked my hair down

As if into a tomb,

Or the hatred like a radioactive cloud

Invading my past.

When all these truths disappear,

I lift my eyes to the cross

From which forgiveness comes.

And

I learn to forgive,

I learn to help the blind

How to see again love.

I was moving through the dust of years

When on the Sunday of the Blind

I looked for my soul and could not see it.

I began to pray

And You cleaned all the mud

With which I have covered my body

And gave me back

My eyes

My prayer is hidden in this humble poem,

A tiny ladder toward You,

My Lord.

Source: by Liliana Ursu. Source: Matthew 4:8-11, by David Craig, A Praying the Gospels through Poetry: Lent to Easter, Peggy Rosenthal, St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2001.

These hands 

You have no business catching babies.”

These words, spoken by a doctor this week in about 20 different ways, have haunted me. This is the second Doctor who has made grave proclamations about my midwifery practice and my hands. 

What do they picture when those words are uttered? Sitting on a stool with the mom up in stirrups, gloved hands in the air? Do they imagine some sort of intense hand maneuvers?

Perhaps they do not picture quiet waiting by candlelight. Maybe they don’t see the mom reaching for her own baby? How can they sense the deep stillness with the only sound being the movement of the water in the birth pool. 

In this place, this holy ground, hands are still needed. But they are gentle hands. 

I was privileged to hold space to welcome a baby last night. Another midwife was there, for the strong hand movements if needed. An apprentice brought her strong and capable hands. And so we held this vigil together. A vigil for the new baby, joining us earth side. We held space in our hearts for another baby born three years ago on this night who we knew could not live outside the womb. And there was a tender knowing that the space was also sacred tonight for these hands of mine, healing still. 

No doctor can imagine what it means to be a midwife in a home. The most empathetic practitioner falls short in picturing this holy work I am called to.

It is not a business; I do not need a work release. It is a calling. And so I listen for the Spirit; for the yes and for the no.  And I am encircled by my sister Midwives, Who protect me in this fragile work of healing.  They bless these hands. 

No one knows the journey ahead. Perhaps I live more aware of that and than some. But for today, this knowing is enough. I have stood again in that space where the veil between heaven and earth is so thin it shimmers. 

  
And to this holy work I offer my hands; broken, and healing. 

These hands. 

(Picture used with permission)

The gift of pain

I believe Pain is a gift. I have lived many years with pain as a journey companion. As a child, growing up with rheumatoid arthritis, I learned many tricks for dealing with pain.
Now, since the car accident, I have not experienced pain or feeling in my arm for 3 1/2 months. The impact of the airbags saved my life; but they broke a bone in the hand and elbow and damaged the nerves.
I grew up with a mom who avoided pain at all costs. As her pain increased, body and spirit, the pain meds required began to rule her. And the cost of that was high for those around her, as addiction always demands a price. She gave me the only gift she had, the skill of going away, in order to survive the violence of nighttime. My work now is to lean into staying present.
In a different context, we learn from our brothers and sisters with leprosy, or stroke, or neuralgia that pain is a gift. Without it, skin breaks down and unnoticed injury destroys the body.
In the church, pain appears to be an enemy. We pray for God to take it away, and sing about the day when that will occur. The longing underneath is right and good, that desire for shalom to be restored. But where is the theology of suffering?
I had pain yesterday! I was so excited I did a happy dance. I felt something in my elbow, which is healing, and went and looked in the mirror. It was swollen. It worked! The pain feedback loop worked! The message came through.
This opens all sorts of possibilities. Physical therapy has been on hold because I cannot tell if I do too much. With pain, I can hear my body’s stop signal.
Last week, I felt a Drop of water on my hand. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? But it has been 3 1/2 months since I have felt that sensation. Nerves wake up in funny ways: heat, cold, pins and needles, like a leg you have been sitting on for too long. I feel more of those things now, the arm awakening after a long winter’s sleep.
And so I ask…
To hear my body talk.
For the gift of pain.

Lenten writings:  breathing

My house breathes children.

In and out, in and out.

The shouts echo, against the backdrop of an Arizona spring. They echo inside my head too, magnified by post concussion syndrome.

The sounds of life; of friends. Breathing in.

Leprechaun houses built with hours of creativity. The boys follow and strategize how to poison the leprechauns when they come.

A daughter here from far away, drawn by love. Here to help things run smoothly. To drive and cook and infuse joy and life to the muted tones of our house post accident.

A daughter gone; close in heart but living on the other side of the globe. I read the news first thing these days.

Suddenly, there is silence.  Breathing out.

Everyone gone.

The waves of pulsing begin to still in my brain. I welcome the silence, yet I miss the sounds.

I wonder if that is what it is like when the children leave? That day still far away for our family, stitched together in a long quilt by threads of birth and adoption.

For today, my house breathes children.

Like breath work, in and out.

Lenten writings: life 

I wonder, for you, what is life giving?  And what is life depleting?

Life giving right now looks like:

  • Walks to the canal with a pug
  • Coloring intricate patterns
  • The glow of the salt lamp
  • Hot tea
  • A tiny lunchbox of fruit/nuts
  • Listening to Adrian’s poem
  • Photos from Turkey
  • A box from Oregon
  • Stories of school
  • Cooking fresh CSA greens
  • Phoning in to the Mystics
  • Acupuncture, craniosacral
  • Chiropractic, reiki
  • A friend sitting in the parlor
  • Desert blossoms

Life depleting realities:

  • Being alone day in & day out
  • Not tolerating sunlight
  • Fluorescent lights
  • Doctors, doctors, doctors
  • Clocks
  • Predictions or prognosis
  • One handed folding clothes
  • No driving
  • Far away friends
  • Missing feeling mama bellies
  • Neurologists
  • An arm that can’t feel pain

As my own tank gets drained with this second list, I must choose.

What do you choose today during Lent…the long journey to life?

Lenten writing:  a lament for my head

“I worried a lot…Will the garden grow? Will the rivers flow in the right direction? Will the earth turn as it was taught; and if not how shall I correct it?  Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning and sang.” (By Mary Oliver:  “I worried”)

With apologies to Mary Oliver, I am going to borrow her cadence and rhythm to write a lament for my brain, 9 weeks into post concussion syndrome. 

I worried a lot. Will my brain heal? Will the words come? Will the thoughts flow freely in the right direction? Will my mind synapse as it was taught; and if not, how shall I be me? Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing and was making my brain symptoms worse. And took my old body and went out into the morning. And walked.

Author’s note:  I couldn’t write “and gave it up”. I might do it again yet. 😏

Lenten writings: a lament for pain

The words of the Psalms roll off the tongue, the agony of the words lost in the cadence of the old English.

People say my blogs inspire them. Maybe the agony of the words gets lost in the cadence.

Tonight is A time for lament.

A lament for pain. I have lived with pain as a journey mate for much of my life, the legacy of rheumatoid disease.

Now I am wishing for pain. Two broken bones from an impact hard enough to collapse a part of my lung and I have no pain. I am in my ninth week and my arm feels like it is not part of me. I can feel pressure now if someone pinches a finger or drop something on my arm. But the pain is missing.

I lived with a parent who made pain go away. The cost of that becomes higher and higher. One of the takeaways from being a child in that chaos is that I don’t push down my pain, maybe even when it would be a choice.

Without pain, how do I trust my body. The first lesson in my trust your body curriculum is “your body talks to you.”  If the body isn’t talking, how are the next lessons true?  “You can listen to your body” and “your body tells the truth ” are hard to follow without the messages to guide.

Somehow without pain to guide me in how to use my arm I feel lost. Not because I am masochistic and wish for pain, but because I can’t hear my body talking to me. And without the ability to read those signals, I feel cut off from the essence of who I am. I have lost a sense of trust.

I said I wish for pain and someone said to be careful what I wish for. But I think they have never felt the sensation of not feeling. It is eerie at best, terrifying at worst.

So in this Lenten time I mourn for the pain that is not there.

Grief upon grief.

The Lenten writings: manna for today

Today I have a sense that I am supposed to notice that all that I need is provided.  There have been three times today that I have been  confronted with the fact that I am not in charge.

Money for rent for the community house, a ride for the children after I called everyone I could imagine, dinner that came unasked to my door, help that is coming during chess nationals.

I was so discouraged on Sunday. I cried a lot of tears, holding my arm just so and trying not to move my head. (It sort of takes the fun out of crying!). I am not out of the house unless I go to a doctor or acupuncture, so it can be days at a stretch.  And if I try to go out of the house, generally the brightness of the sun or fluorescent lights or the noise set off the concussion symptoms. The Birth community has been incredible in surrounding me with an outpouring of love. But I was feeling isolated nonetheless. And into that space, the lies come.

As I was taking my morning walk this morning before the sun was over the horizon, some phrases begin to March through my mind to the cadence of my footsteps. “All I have needed by hand has provided “. “Manna for today.”  “This moment… ”

That is what I have, this moment. Actually, that is all any of us have. This moment, today.

In the shadow

“you who sit down in the high God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s  shadow” (Psalm 91:1)

I do that. I can do that.

So much right now is unknown, more questions than answers. The not knowing threatens to overwhelm. All of the things that can’t be done are so in my face.

But I know how to breathe. To be still. To listen. And in the night times when the fear can come, I would like to be in the shadow.

So for tonight, this is the place to rest.