I have a strained, pulled, hurt a muscle. The good thing is it’s one on my back next to my shoulder-blade so I only use it…all the time! I have no idea how I hurt the muscle. I haven’t done anything differently the last few days and yet it has been giving me fits. It’s the sort of strained muscle you only notice when you are lifting, pulling, picking up, putting on a shirt or reaching. When I’m sitting and relatively still I almost forget it’s there until I use it.
I was thinking about a person this week whom I knew long ago. It really does seem it was another life. There was a strain in our relationship. It was painful and awkward. To this day I’m not sure how it became so bad. When I was in the middle of it I often thought it was their fault but now that I am older and think I know myself better I see my part in it. It was both of us. It didn’t always show itself. We both made efforts but when any pressure was put on the relationship it was evident and hurtful.
I sometimes wonder if speaking again after this time of being apart from each other would help heal the rift. I’m not sure. It might only bring the differences and damaged parts to the surface. So, for now, I will rest my shoulder and my anxious mind and trust healing will come.
What We Know –
Wisdom begins when we realize we know nothing.
Philosophers tell us that everything changes, doesn’t stay the same. Mountains wear down, skies fall, mighty trees topple and the greatest among people are but a wisp of wind, sound, and fury signifying nothing.
Reducing our ego is one of the hardest wisdom disciplines. One of my favorite wisdom proverbs says; “Take compliments and criticisms with equal value.” Too often we believe the good and ignore the not so good. It’s easy to focus on what others like about us. We wrap ourselves in the words of friends, families, even those whose positivity drips off their tongue like poison, people who see us mere objects to use to further their objectives. Ego builds us up only to be pulled out from under us by someone with a bigger, stronger ego. We fight back and when one take on another, no one wins and out of control egos only destroy never heal.
Humility is wisdom’s greatest and most difficult lesson. Saying; “No” to puffery and stroking; “Yes” to a self-awareness that leads us to a place where our egos are not bruised, or quickly heal, from a careless word, a selfish act, a purposeful plan to defame, defraud, demolish. Wisdom tells us; “Smaller egos take less time to heal because the wound isn’t as big.”
Socrates once said; “There is true joy (bliss) when we realize we know, and are, nothing.”
What do you do when you discover someone doesn’t like you? It’s a difficult question to ask and answer. Beth and I were talking about it this weekend and then yesterday and today someone I haven’t seen in almost a decade, out of the blue, let me know, in no uncertain terms, they don’t like me at all! Unknowingly I hurt them and they still bear the scars. After reflection and prayer I asked forgiveness and offered to make restitution but both were rebuffed. Presently there doesn’t seem a road which takes me to the heart of the matter so we can discuss the issues and connect once again as friends.
One of the hardest experiences to deal with is knowing someone doesn’t like you, knowing you have wronged them, or at least they have felt wronged, and you can’t do anything to make it right. So, for now, an apology, an act of grace, a hand which has been slapped away will be put aside until there is another opportunity to heal the wounds I’m accused of inflicting.
Wisdom tells us that we are weak, selfish, near-sighted and ego driven. Hopefully, I and this one who doesn’t care for me will be at different places on our journey the next time we connect and the outcome will be different.
Left Overs –
It’s now the third day after my oral surgery this past Wednesday. After a numbing gel on the impacted areas, shots of Novocaine which deadened gums, nerves, tongue, nitrous oxide which made me loopier than usual and a painkiller prescription, all that’s left over, 72 hours later, is the swelling and tenderness. I do have a few powerful pills but use them with extreme caution and sparingly for fear of becoming dependent. Even bread is hard to chew! The dentist said; “It would take time, not to rush it, invest in some ice cream.” Ice cream? Perhaps the dentist isn’t all bad. 🙂
There’s something about a part of your mouth feeling different from normal that makes you want to rub your tongue over the impacted area. With it I can tell where the surgery happened but must be gentle not to cause further pain. The first two days the ache wasn’t so bad but now that all the other desensitizing agents have worn off there’s only swelling, aching and waiting that’s left over.
Wisdom teaches us that traumatic and painful events, experiences happen to us all. We may have ways of coping with the hurt, masking the discomfort, ignoring the suffering, however, sooner or later, we must acknowledge the damage which has been done. We must accept the left overs in our lives that heartbreak and distress cause. Only then can we know the wound’s severity. Only then can we treat ourselves with gentleness and patience. Only then can we begin to heal.
This morning an elderly man chose the pew in front of me for the worship service. His choice of place was based on it being near one of the large wooden decorative beams located in the sanctuary. He had great difficulty sitting and standing so he used the beam
to steady himself. The church building itself was supporting him. When it came time to go to the front of the sanctuary to receive communion he slowly raised himself and made his way forward. The older gentleman couldn’t bend his knees at the railing as the priest served the body and the blood so the priest reached out to him to make sure he was served, included.
As I watched and reflected on the scene it was a beautiful reminder of what the community of faith should be, what we’re called to do. There are hurt, broken, scarred people who we encounter both inside and outside the church. We aren’t called to heal them, only God can do that. Our purpose is to include, support, serve and love them in every way possible.
Today I had to make a most difficult decision. It’s been coming for a long while but sometimes its easier to put off uncomfortable choices than to ultimately choose, especially when your decision cannot be undone. Our Golden Retriever, Belle, came into our lives almost 15 years ago. She has been a faithful companion, a good friend and has given us unconditional love in many ways. The last couple of years she’s lost her hearing, vision, her back legs became extremely weak and she’s had trouble standing. These issues along with heart, breathing and other difficult health maladies have greatly diminished her quality of life. The past few weeks she’s taken a major turn for the worse; not being able to stand without assistance, stopped eating and so we made the decision to take her to the vet one last time to be euthanized.
This morning I took her outside and we walked around the yard. I snapped a few pictures, petted her, talked to her and tried to let her know I’ve appreciated the blessing of her companionship. I helped her into the truck and on the way to the veterinarian continued to tell her how much she’s meant to me and stroked her head. She looked so tired and worn out. Arriving, we slowly walked into the waiting room and a few moments later were put in a room where we said; “Goodbye.”
Life is about transition. Bidding farewell to loved ones, furry and human, is never easy. However, it’s what needed to be done. To hang on any longer would’ve been selfish and cruel. As I sat alone with her in the room gently running my hand across her face one last time, I could hear the receptionist answering phones, folk walking back and forth down the hall. Laughter and life continued on the other side of the door. I got up, left the room and walked outside into the beautiful sunlight.
I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago who just started a new job. Her last one didn’t end well with hurt feelings, ill will on both sides. After a short break of recovery and reflection she believed it was time to accept another position. We were conversing about how to heal, move forward, let go of the past so that we can embrace the present.
“Will you pray for me?” she inquired. “What would you like me to pray for?” I asked. She replied; “that I would be able to do well, my confidence would return, that I wouldn’t be haunted by what’s been.” I told her I would pray for her to realize that now, presently, she has what she seeks. Her confidence, abilities, talents and gifts have never left. Grief, difficulty and pain can obscure who we are, what we can do, but this doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared.
Even though it’s dark the path is still present. Though we may not see, we still know they way.