Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV
Several weeks ago I took a fall down the stairs, twisting my ankle and fracturing my heel bone. I am wearing a boot and counting down the days until I can remove it.
To my surprise, I am grateful — that clunky boot is forcing me to take it easy. It will take 8 weeks for my foot to heal — a summer’s worth of time. It’s a perfect excuse to slow down, sit on the patio and read, put my feet up and watch a good movie, and to stay close to home, spending quiet time with my husband. I am enjoying these simple pleasures.
One such activity has been the reading (for the first time) of the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It may seem odd for a 63-year-old woman to be reading children’s books but I find them comforting. As a writer, I marvel at Wilder’s mastery of description with uncomplicated words. Her idyllic scenes are as compelling as the darker ones; I feel as if I am right there with Ma, Pa, Mary, Laura, and Carrie. I am grateful to my friend Ellen for introducing me to this simple pleasure.
Another is spending time in my pool, something I can still do despite my injury. I have a kiddie pool on my deck. Heated by the sun, the water is a balmy 85 degrees by midafternoon. The pool is just big enough and deep enough so that I can float in it and look up at the sky. An azure blue, the sky reminds me of the Blessed Mother’s veil, perhaps shielding my gaze from the glory of God which I am not permitted to see until the day I die. And against that blue are emerald-green trees, lush with tender leaves. A lone hawk soars overhead and I think of how lucky that bird is to be that much closer to heaven. I whisper a prayer of thanks to God for granting me this simple pleasure.
Sitting on the love seat positioned next to the koi pond at the break of dawn sets the stage for a time of prayer and meditation. Along with the gurgling fountain, I can see my statues of Mary with baby Jesus along with a cherubic angel gazing upward. The fountain reminds me of the stirring of the Holy Spirit within, keeping the waters of my soul fresh with true and noble, pure and lovely, admirable and praiseworthy thoughts of God’s many blessings. All that is needed is to slow down long enough to take them in. They soften my hardened heart, making it supple and grateful.
One of those blessings is this injury and what it is meant to teach. I have struggled trying to grasp what it means to offer up my suffering for others. While intellectual understanding remains elusive, that clunky boot reminds me to think of those for whom I promised to pray. Sometimes the weight of that boot can feel like a ball and chain; when I turn my thoughts to others, the load becomes easier to bear.
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My sufferings are miniscule in comparison to those battling terminal or chronic illness, aging, family troubles and the like. I have known people in the middle of desperate trouble who have somehow transcended their pain, perhaps because intuitively, they understand the meaning of offering it up.
I pray that the lessons of my injured foot will remain with me when that time of greater suffering comes. St. Paul, a veteran of many trials, offers the road map in his words to the Philippians — think upon good things to insure a grateful heart.
Copyright 2019 Susan W. Bailey