Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I'm sure most of you visiting this site have seen these before, but in case anyone hasn't, I'm posting them all together. Seeing the before and after in close juxtaposition does seem to illustrate the impact of Katherine's AVM rupture more vividly.
*Katherine and Jay's Wedding: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEYed9Foins&feature=related
*Clips from "Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?":
* First Baptist, Pomona, CA: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k00BFb-yPK8&feature=related
*Testimony at First Baptist, Florence, MS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=59YMj7fFxfQ
*Testimony at First Baptist, Montgomery: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC7e4kKxz-4
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
I miss Katherine.
I’ve said it.
I miss her laugh.
I miss her eyes.
I miss her smile.
I miss her voice.
I miss the way she talked 100 miles an hour when she was excited about something.
I miss the way she moved.
I miss the way she helped me.
In Target the other day, I thought I saw her.
My peripheral vision glimpsed a tall girl with long blonde hair striding toward me. “Oh, here comes Katherine,” my inner reflexes registered for a milli-second.
It made my heart race.
Then a swift sadness.
I miss that girl.
This is not an entirely new phenomenon.
When Katherine was a toddler, I missed Baby Katherine.
I missed her baby smell.
I missed her funny Mohawk hair.
I missed her tininess.
I missed nursing her.
I missed sleeping with her.
When Katherine was 7 or 8, I missed Toddler Katherine.
I missed her voice.
I missed the funny things she said.
I missed her little dimpled hands holding mine.
I missed seeing her see things for the first time.
I missed the conversations we had at bedtime. (Age 2 1/2: “Mommy, why is there meanness in the world?”)
I missed snuggle time.
I still do.
When Katherine was 17, I missed Awkward Preteen Katherine.
I missed her dorkiness.
I missed the way she thought I was The Coolest Mom.
I missed the way she could still play.
I missed the way she told me everything.
I still do.
I miss all my little girls.
I miss the way they fought and kissed and made up.
I miss the way they sang silly made-up songs.
I miss the way they covered me in kisses..
I miss the way they got into bed together and giggled. (Wait…they still do that.)
I can still smell the sunshine in Amie’s hair.
I can feel Baby Grace’s long legs wrapped around my middle.
I can see the look in Katherine’s blue eyes, as big as her face, as she asked me endless questions.
I feel a sense of loss that those little girls are gone.
…As I feel a sense of loss for the Katherine who left us one sunny day in April in the year 2008.
I miss her.
There is an innate tristesse in the harsh reality that kittens become cats
and toddlers morph into teenagers
and teenagers turn into old ladies like me.
Impermanence is sad.
I think it’s okay to be sad sometimes.
For a time.
Old ladies turn into angels one day.
“Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is…” (I John 3:2)
“I'm gonna miss you
I'm gonna miss you
When you're gone
She says, I love you
I'm gonna miss you
And your songs
And I said, please
Don't talk about the end
Don't talk about how
Every living thing goes away…”
Jon Foreman, from Learning How to Die
*I hope you understand my heart in this. It was not meant to be maudlin or whiny. Just an admission that there has been loss; that change and loss are inevitable parts of life; and that it is sometimes good to acknowledge this fact in order to appreciate our times of joy more fully. Although there are things I miss about the pre-AVM Katherine, the After-Katherine has qualities and depths that would not have been possible before. God is not finished with her yet. The gifts she is receiving through her losses are greater than gold. I believe that the heart of God is such than when He takes something away, He replaces it with something even better. But the "taking away" part is still hard. Very, very, very hard.
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Okay, here’s the deal:
We’re beginning the process of a complicated move, so there’s zero time to work on my new ideas.
But I don’t want to lose touch. So, in the meantime, just click on the link below and bookmark it. This is not the new blog…just kind of an intermediate holding ground.
I’m sure there’ll be fresh stories to tell…I’m always learning something new. (Better late than never, I guess.)
In the meantime... http://www.kimarnoldblog.blogspot.com
Let me know if you have any trouble with it.
Saturday, January 16, 2010
The halls were deserted.
The elevators were barricaded.
The guts of UCLA Medical Center had been transplanted to the new Ronald Reagan Hospital down the block.
Echoes of loud voices ricocheted through my mind as I walked through the long, lonely halls to the one wing still occupied: The Neuro-Rehab unit on the main floor.
Those of us with loved ones there felt hollow and abandoned, like the obsolete shell of a building through which we wandered.
Hope seemed as faded as the drab, scuffed paint on the walls.
But one man refused to let go of the vision.
He refused to let us forget.
Intent on his mission, he snuck back in like a thief. Ignoring the warning signs, he took the elevator as far as it would go; then he took the fire escape stairs up to the 7th floor.
Back to the dead and darkened ICU.
Back to the place where life and death were separated by nothing more than a flimsy curtain.
Back to where the miracles happened.
He reconstructed the reality:
The actor’s “Head Shot” that the patient’s mother had taped to the wall behind the bed…a reminder that this was still a person, not a thing.
The fuzzy old blanket dear friends brought to the hospital as a hug-surrogate that had remained a constant comforter in spite of sanitary concerns. Green, the color of life.
And, most importantly, tangible symbols of intangible promises: a mound of heavy stones representing memorial stones from the Old Covenant.
A stone for every miracle.
Alone in the silent room that once buzzed and blared the blinking signals of survival, our friend painstakingly constructed a pyramid of hope upon that bed of pain and horror.
So we would never forget what we witnessed there.
The bed now lies as empty as the tomb from which the largest stone was rolled away.
Although we have many, many miles to go before we sleep,
Thus far has the Lord brought us…
And He will bring us safely Home.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
T.S. Eliot (Little Gidding)
Tears are beginning the trek down toward the keyboard before the first words appear. (I told you I usually cry at endings, didn’t I?)
When I began this, Katherine could not tell her own story.
Now she can.
It is time.
Both of us feel it.
Those who were with us in the beginning know that I really didn’t understand what a “blog” was. Words simply started spilling out onto an unfamiliar keyboard as I tried to communicate to friends what was going on, and, in the process, grope toward understanding for myself. Sharing the story made the unthinkable more concrete and bearable. The responses I got were life-preservers thrown to someone drowning in a sea of horror, despair and denial. I thank you for them from the bottom of my heart.
I’m not going to use the analogy of breaking up, but I have a little bit of the same yucky feeling in my stomach right now. This experience has brought me friends. I, who would never do the pen-pal thing as a child, or the email thing as an adult (until quite recently), now count myself blessed by hundreds of pen-friends. Several times over the holidays I had the experience of meeting a reader for the first time, or running into someone I had not known well before, who said the same thing to me: “I hope you don’t think this is weird, but I feel like I really know you. I feel like you’re my best friend.”
No, I don’t think it’s weird at all. I am very deeply moved and honored by such comments. That’s the sweetest thing anyone could say to me. Psychologists concur that the desire to be truly known (and understood) is one of the most fundamental of human needs. The knowledge that, through my writing, I’ve made friends who get me and understand…who are truly kindred spirits…is mind-boggling. It is one of the greatest gifts that I’ve received from Katherine’s Mom’s Blog. There have been many.
When I first began writing, my feelings were just a wee bit hurt whenever someone would say how “cathartic” the blog must be for me. I guess the connotation in my mind was of someone vomiting her unfiltered emotions all over the internet for the express purpose of “feeling better.” Because blogging became something I felt called to do in the theological sense of the word, my pride was a little wounded by the thought that people might perceive it as nothing more than a personal emotional release. If that were the case, I thought, why not just write it in my journal?
But now I realize that it certainly has been cathartic.
Catharsis (Ancient Greek: Κάθαρσις) is a Greek word meaning "purification", "purging", "cleansing" or "clarification." It is derived from the infinitive verb of Ancient Greek: καθαίρειν transliterated as kathairein "to purify, purge," and adjective Ancient Greek: καθαρός katharos "pure or clean."
This is all terribly meaningful to me. Obviously, Katherine’s name comes from this stem. (She has been a pure soul from birth.)
I thank you who have wept and laughed and pondered life with me. It has, indeed, been both a purging and a cleansing. You have helped me to clarify and purify my thoughts and attitudes during this painful pilgrimage. I have felt a sense of accountability to you who have read my words and shared this time with my family and me. That has been an extremely positive force in my life. You have ministered to me with your words and prayers.
I have shared a lot…sometimes more than my family is entirely comfortable with. (Okay, English teachers: “more than that with which my family is entirely comfortable.” Just to show you I can do it if I have to. And, for the record, I’ve been aware of my fragments and run-ons all along.J)
It’s always a risk when you put yourself out there, with all of your warts and moles and booboos and bad breath and hairy legs and all. The fear of rejection often inhibits honesty: “What will people think of me? Will they judge me harshly? Will they be offended?”
But instead of judgment, I have received nothing but support, encouragement, and affirmation. Understanding. Compassion. Love.
“Transparency” is a word that has cropped up often in the affirming comments. If I do possess that trait, I must attribute it more to heredity than altruism. The impulsive nature that accompanies ADHD is the culprit in many a premature revelation or TMI (Too-Much-Information) diatribe.
But I long to be truly transparent.
Hopefully, I will become more and more so during this drawn-out procedure known as “sanctification.” As God continues cleaning me up from the inside out, there will be less and less to hide.
There are many peripheral stories that never made it onto KMB, caringbridge, or the other sites. I always meant to share this one:
When I left California for the first time after Katherine’s brain rupture in order to attend my youngest daughter’s high school graduation, my sister and her family flew out to take my place. While in Malibu picking up mail for Jay and Katherine, they decided to go up on the mountaintop to Serra Retreat, which is a very beautiful monastery overlooking the ocean. The park beside the monastery has steep winding paths with sea views that remind me of some of my favorite places in Italy or Greece. Along one of one of these paths, my sister Kelly ran into Mel Gibson. He was in an intense discussion with a young woman, evidently a newcomer to the AA meetings that are held at Serra. His eyes met Kelly’s. Although she didn’t want to interrupt the counseling session, she was led to speak to him and to identify herself as a fellow believer. In the aftermath of his reputation-destroying arrest, which he later described as the “stupid ramblings of a drunkard,” she felt the need to offer encouragement. Stumbling over her words, she said to him, “I just want you to know that I appreciate your honesty in admitting your failings.” He looked at her with those piercing baby blues and gave her a wry, slightly sad, smile. “Well, I’m not always totally honest,” he told her.
I appreciate his honesty in admitting that.
We human beings are all complicated labyrinths of consistency and contradiction, honesty and subterfuge, authenticity and fraud, transparency and obscurity. I believe that the sharing of our personal struggles in achieving fusion and wholeness can help to set others free. Over the years, God has brought some amazing people into my life who have modeled this for me. I’ve been blessed with friends whose honesty was startling…if not shocking…to me at first. But their transparency encouraged me to give myself permission to admit my own many fallings and failings. As I've said before, I believe that bringing our imperfections out into the light…bringing them to The Light…is ultimately healing and restoring. The process is simple: “Confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you might be healed.” (James 5:16) It is impossible to grow up and grow old on planet Earth without needing healing of some sort.
Katherine chose this quote for her wedding program:
“The love of God, unutterable and perfect, flows into a pure soul the way that light rushes into a transparent object. The more love that it finds, the more it gives itself, so that, as we grow clear and open, the more complete the joy of loving is. And the more souls who resonate together, the greater the intensity of their love, for, mirror-like, each soul reflects the others." (Dante, The Divine Comedy)
I believe that living out our lives as authentically and transparently as possible expedites this process of ‘soul purification,’ thus enabling us to experience the love of God in a much deeper way, and then to share that love with others. “She who hath been forgiven much loveth much.”
I am not a perfect person; we are not a perfect family. We were not so before Katherine’s brain rupture; we are not now. It’s been a little awkward receiving accolades. Over the holidays, I heard myself repeating this over and over again: “No, I’m not…but He is.” If anyone has gotten anything at all from this public sharing, then I hope this much is understood: I am NOT… “faithful” or “strong” or “amazing” or any other adjective that people have used in trying to encourage me (or maybe just to be polite.) I am most assuredly none of those things. Quite the contrary, as Miss Elizabeth Barrett said.
I really am just an average sinner. Maybe even above average.
But that is the whole point.
It’s all Him.
Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch Christian who, along with her entire family, was sent to a concentration camp by the Nazis for hiding Jews. She was the only one of her family to survive. In her wonderful book, The Hiding Place, she relates a conversation she had with her father as a child. She had expressed to him a fear of dying. (In particular, dying as a martyr for Christ.)
“Tell me,” said Father, “When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?” “No, Daddy, you give me the ticket just before we get on the train.” “That is right,” my father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength... He will supply all you need — just in time...”
He handed me the ticket just as I got on the plane to fly to California on the night of April 21, 2008. And then He handed His own to the flight attendant and got on with me. He’s been with me for the whole trip. He’s the one who is faithful and strong and amazing. I don’t have to be.
I just have to lean on Him when I can’t stand any longer.
Actually, He’s carried me through most of it. I don’t know why I should be surprised by this.
He promised me He would the very first day I began writing.
He will carry you, too.
God bless you now and always.
P.S. Older readers (i.e., those who've stuck around a while) will know that this is just the first of many more p.s.’s to come over the next days, if not weeks to come. I can never finish a conversation. Takes me forever to get off the phone.
Long ago, a sweet lady wrote to encourage me to continue writing. Actually, she said that she would be willing to read just about anything I wrote, even if it were about “picking my toes.” I’m taking her at her word. As I said, KMB has given me many gifts. Not least among them is that I have finally, at this very late stage of the game, discovered “my voice.” George Eliot said “It is never too late to become what you might have been.” It seems that I have become a writer in spite of myself.
It was important for me to post this today in order to have some closure, and to force myself into a new direction. The process of getting there may take weeks as I attempt to set up a new blog…while going through a move and caring for James.
Please hang with me. Although I will no longer be sharing Katherine’s current story, there are a few 'p.s.’s' pertaining to what’s already been written here that I would like to post before I close up shop.
Also, I want to thank the many people who have asked about a book. Here’s the deal: I am a technophobe who has little time in which to improve my skills. I attempted to compile some of the entries into book form on “Blurb,” but the affordable version proved to be over my head. (Re-formatting and all that…lots of abbreviations I have no clue about.)
I am not giving up the idea, however. I am praying that if God wants it to happen, He will bring the right people to help me.
So, if anyone feels led to pray for me, I could use a book person and a blog designer.
Thank you, dear friends, for.....….....everything.
I would love to hear from you!
P.S.S. Since this turned out to be so long, I will tell the story of the picture on the previous posting another day. Please do keep checking in.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Traditions are a huge deal in the Deep South. I’m not exactly sure why that is, other than the fact that Southerners tend to squat in the same place for such long periods of time. My uncle recently reminded me that my mother’s side of the family came to Georgia shortly after fighting in the Revolution. From the 1780’s to 2010 is a long time in the same general vicinity. It tends to make traditions stick.
I’ve always been the type that tries to cling to happy experiences. I have taken too many pictures, bought too many souvenirs. The End of anything used to make me sad. I cried at pre-school graduations.
Holidays turned into idols of Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart perfection. We had to have the same decorations, the same special dishes, the same parties, the same activities, the same gift-exchanges, the same routine, year after year. It turned from joy into burden.
As meaningful as traditions can be, I think there are times when God calls us to let them go with the winds of change. Nothing lasts forever down here. This world and everything in it are passing away.
Letting go of traditions means letting go of how I think things are supposed to be and opening myself up to receiving new gifts and joys. While remembering the happy times of the past with gratitude, I want to be able to embrace the new and unpredictable.
Living in a New Normal has expedited that process.
There have been greater changes in the life of our family than I ever could have imagined two Christmases ago. Life has been turned completely upside down. But even while grieving over what’s been lost, there has been much joy and laughter. And great hope.
We let go of many traditions this Christmas. It was much easier than I thought it could be. As much as possible, I tried to live by the adage, “If it brings you joy, do it. If not, don’t!” There were many things I didn’t do this year. But instead of feeling guilty, I felt free.
We actually allowed ourselves the freedom to fly: we flew away to New York for Christmas weekend. It was the Wolf’s turn to have Katherine, Jay, and James, so rather than sitting around missing them on Christmas morning, we decided to do something completely new for us. I even took a little Christmas tree in my suitcase!
As the Blind Boys of Alabama sing at the House of Blues in LA, “I didn’t come here looking for Jesus…I brought him with me!”
But He was already there.
Man-made traditions are not holy; He is.
And he will meet us wherever we are, wherever we go.
“Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:7-10)
“Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5)
May this year be one of newness for us all.
Family and friends, I've posted a holiday album on Picasa:
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Her new name is “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo.” It sounds kind of like a Native American moniker from “Dancing With Wolves.”
The new name is always accompanied by a long “Mmmmm” and a sad face: bottom lip out, brows drawn together.
James probably says this 50 times a day.
He can be playing with Thomas and friends, happily chatting away about the Isle of Sodor and Sir Topham Hat, when he suddenly looks up at me and says “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo. Mmmmm…” like it’s a news flash. He might be watching Sesame Street or Curious George, staring at the TV screen in an addictive trance, when he jumps up to give me the news in an urgent voice. We’ll walk past an old picture, and James will grab it and start identifying the subjects: “Mimi, BigB, Amie, Gracie, Mommy-ha’-a-Booboo.” He picks up a phone and tells his imaginary friend, “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo!” Whenever anyone says the name, “Katherine,” his immediate response is “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo! Mmmmmm…" (Sad face.) We can be laughing on the swingset, racing to the treetops, and he will tell me as we pass each other on the way.
All. Day. Long.
This is how it came about: As I’ve mentioned, James is somewhat confused about the state of his universe. He’s trying to figure out to whom he owes his primary loyalty. Who is his #1 lady? This is a natural outcome for a 2-year-old who’s had so many caretakers. I think that he senses something is a little “off.” His confusion has caused him to occasionally display anger towards his mother, which, of course, adds insufferable insult to injury. On one of these occasions, I sat him down and gave him a serious talking-to. I said, “Listen. Mommy got hurt. She has a bad booboo. It makes me sad when you’re not nice to her.” He struggled out of my arms and ran off to play. But a few days later, he came up and told me, “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo. Mmmm.” (Sad face.)
As the weeks wore on, the phrase began coming out more and more frequently. Being in Athens, it has reached a crescendo.
I think a lightbulb has come on in that baby boy’s brain. He’s a smart little guy. He’s already taught himself the whole alphabet. I think he’s beginning to understand what’s going on. With all of the old pictures around the house, he can see the “before” and “after.” At first, I was a little surprised that he could correctly identify Katherine. In the “before” pictures, Mommy is usually standing up and smiling a great big smile. In the beginning, he hesitated. It was almost a process of elimination… “Okay, we know the big one is BigB. The short one is Mimi. The blondest hair is Gracie; Amie is the one laughing…so the other one must be Mommy! But it’s a different version of the Mommy I have now. Hmmmm…” The first time this happened, he looked up at me, and I promise, I could read his mind. He gazed into my eyes very intently, let out a little breath, laid his head on my shoulder, and told me, sadly, “Mommy-ha’-a-booboo.” “That’s right, James,” I told him. “Mommy has a big booboo. A bad, bad booboo.”
Ironically, “Booboo” is Katherine’s family nickname. The AVM rupture was not her first life-threatening medical crisis. When she was 6 months old (James’ age when her rupture occurred), Katherine became very sick. Further irony: It ended up being a serious urological problem requiring surgery. My father was a urological surgeon. He wouldn’t touch his own grandbaby with a ten-foot pole, so we headed to Egleston, Emory’s children’s hospital. It was a scary place then…still unrenovated. Tons of babies with cancer and other hideous malaises I didn’t even know existed. We had to share a room with another mother and her toddler who was severely retarded. The mothers slept on plastic reclining chairs on either side of the room. When the toddler couldn’t be comforted, the other mother would put her in one of those old rolling walkers we used in the 80’s, and she would play bumper cars with the walls. Dante’s Inferno.
Like James, Katherine was an exclusively breast-fed baby when this happened. I was too lazy to pump, so she’d never had a bottle. They had to tie her down after the surgery (“double ureteral re-implant,” with Brooks’ college roommate, a urological resident, assisting the primary surgeon!) to prevent any movement that might disturb the delicate procedure. I cried and cried, my tears plopping down on her little heaving chest as she screamed. I’ll never forget the look in those big eyes, staring into mine with questions: “Why are you letting them do this to me??? Don’t you love me anymore?” (There have been times when I’ve asked my heavenly parent questions like those.)
Both the staff and my family realized that if I didn’t get a hospital break, I might break. When Katherine was more stabilized, a cousin came to babysit while my husband took me out to dinner. My cousin told me later that Katherine began screaming as soon as I left. Missy walked her back and forth, back and forth the length of the little room, unable to comfort her. As they made the trek for the umpteenth time, Katherine snatched the sleeve of my bathrobe off the closet door and buried her face in it. Eau de Mommy instantly quieted her for the rest of the evening.
(A side note: This story came to mind when I was caring for James in the early days of Katherine’s residence in UCLA’s Intensive Care Unit. He’d never taken a bottle, either, so we were having some rough times adjusting. As he was screaming inconsolably, I thought I’d give the same method a try. I found Katherine’s “Hooter Hider,” a cloth cover used for discreet public nursing, and put it in his face. Like an instant opiate, it calmed him down. He immediately stopped crying. It’s interesting. Sometimes just a whiff of my Father can calm me down, too.)
Somehow, we survived our stay at Egleston, and took a lasting memento home with us when we left. Our favorite nurse adored Katherine, and snuck in to play with her whenever she could. She began calling her “BooBoo.” It stuck. We made up all kinds of silly BooBoo songs, which followed Katherine through childhood. She was accident-prone, which we now understand to have been a result of the location of the hidden AVM, so the nickname was appropriate. To this day, I call her “Booboo,” or just “Boo,” more frequently than I do her Christian name.
It’s impossible for any of us to go through life without accumulating some pretty nasty booboos.
Some booboos are external and obvious, like those that plague our own sweet Booboo. Some are more hidden. Spiritual cancers, deep, gaping, core wounds…the booboos of heart and soul. Writing those words, the refrain from a Vigilantes of Love (Athens band) song comes back to me:
“yeah, the thing we cannot speak of,
the secret we all know…
this blister soul
oh this blister soul…”
The harshness of life, the cruelty of other injured people, and our own destructive choices can rub some really nasty blisters onto our soft and tender spots. There are times when it is best to keep those suppurating blisters and booboos covered with medication and bandages. But after a time of stillness and healing, it is good to take the bandages off and allow the light and air to complete the healing. Sometimes we need to ‘speak of the secret we all know.’ Everyone suffers from blister soul at one time or another. It helps us and others when we are willing to share our deepest pains and wounds…allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Bringing things out into the Light always heals. Then we are enabled become what theologian Henri Nouwen calls “Wounded Healers.”
That is what Jesus is.
When James uses his new hyphenated-name-for-his-mother, I counter it with, “Yes, Mommy has a booboo, but she’s getting better. God is helping her get better every day.”
The Wounded One himself is washing her wounds, pouring his healing Spirit into her battered body. I felt this very powerfully the other day when a few friends gathered to pray for her. The Scarred One is bathing her scars with his tears, comforting her heart with his incomprehensible, unearthly comfort. He is equipping her to be a Wounded Healer, one who can “comfort those in any trouble with the comfort she herself has received from Christ.” (II Cor. 1:4) No one else can empathize with another’s suffering as passionately and lovingly as someone who’s been injured in the same way. It’s impossible.
I still have many scars from childhood booboos. A prissy tomboy, I was constantly falling out of trees and scraping huge chunks of skin off my bony little knees. My husband still teases me about these lasting reminders of how wild I was as a child. I have a 52-year-old star-shaped scar a few millimeters away from my eye…a memento of a dog bite at age 3. A thin line just above my eyebrow passes as a wrinkle, but is actually a souvenir of the time I busted my head open in a bathtub, requiring 20 stitches. Strings of old picked bug-bite scab scars still decorate my legs. My body is a booboo scrapbook.
So is my soul.
But I am not ashamed of my booboos and bruises, my scrapes and scars. In rereading the story of doubting Thomas, I realize that it is our wounds…and our openness in sharing them…that make us real. Our booboos are tools that God uses for healing in the lives of his other beloved children. We pour healing and comfort into others who’ve been hurt as we’ve been hurt, who’ve bled as we have bled, been broken as we’ve been broken.
It is an honor to be used by God as a Wounded Healer.
Jesus was a Wounded Healer.
That is why he came.
May we keep his wounds in our hearts as we celebrate his birth.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 2: 24)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (II Cor. 1:3-5)
“Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.” (John 20:26-28)
God rest ye merry, gentlefolk/ Let nothing you dismay/ Remember, Christ, our Saviour/ Was born on Christmas day/ To save us all from Satan's power/ When we were gone astray/ O tidings of comfort and joy,/ Comfort and joy/ O tidings of comfort and joy…
Addendum, 1/8/10: I have just discovered an amazing woman called "Punk Rock Mommy." Here is the link to her blog: http://www.punkrockmommy.org/. On the entry dated April 21, 2008, the day of Katherine's AVM rupture, she talks about the same thing, only her testimony is more valid than mine. How strange is that??? Check it out. http://punkrockmommy.org/blog/?p=499
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The second one occurred at my mother’s house. Katherine has been thrilled to develop more independence. She is doing a great job of getting around on her own, albeit slowly, using a three-footed cane. But sometimes a foot turned a millimeter in the wrong direction can cause the world to turn upside down. As she started going down, Katherine grabbed the back of the couch. Thanks to the intense physical therapy she received at Casa Colina, and continues to receive here from her fabulous personal trainer (her husband), she has developed amazing strength. The heavy couch started to topple over on top of her. Luckily, she let go on the way down, and it righted itself. She said, “Mom, I thought I was going to die!”
We’ve come a long way since the days in Acute Rehab when Katherine tried to run away to Cabo…before she could even stand ("RollercoasterRide," http://katherineawolf.blogspot.com/2008/06/roller-coaster-ride.html) But it seems likely that falls will be an inevitable part of her journey for years to come. Over half of her cerebellum, the part of the brain responsible for balance, has been surgically removed.
We recently had a chance to talk to a wonderful lady who has experienced the most unimaginable kind of loss there is. But she turned the focus to Katherine. She shared that her mother had had an AVM rupture. Katherine asked her about residual deficits. Our new friend said, “There really weren’t any, other than some balance issues. If you were walking next to her, she would always gradually drift into you.” Paths would cross.
There are worse things.
I’m getting just a wee bit tired of Tiger Woods. Why is everyone so shocked? Our culture thrives on elevating people into Idols, and then rejoicing when they fall off the pedestals we’ve erected for them. It seems an inescapable truism that all idols will fall. Humans cannot tolerate the burden of worship indefinitely. We were not built for it. It will inevitably corrupt and destroy those for whom it was not originally intended.
Celebrities are not the only ones who fall. I’ve heard a lot of gossip lately about the ‘falls’ of people I know, or know of. Human nature being what it is, I think we feel a little better about ourselves when we hear of the failures of others. Maybe we’re not so bad after all, in comparison. But it doesn’t work that way.
I’m a slow learner. It has taken me decades to discover this spiritual principle, but you can take it to the bank: However you judge others, you will be tested in that exact area. The absolute dumbest thing you can ever say, or feel in your heart, is “I would never…” Or even dumber, “My child would never…”
We are all capable of absolutely anything under the right (wrong) circumstances.
I’ve had more than my share of missteps and stumbles, scraped knees and soul bruises. Sometimes I feel that the part of my brain responsible for mental and spiritual balance has gone missing. I’ve teetered and tottered and toppled into a heap on the floor. But that is the best place to ask for help. Down your knees is a good place to start learning to stand.
We all fall down. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”(I John I:8)
But, as I’ve said before, a fall is not the end of the world.
It has many negative connotations…
Fallen women and fallen arches…
The Fall of Man, The Fall of Rome…
Fallen heroes, fallen idols…falling from grace…
Falling into an inheritance…
Falling in love…into someone’s path…
Falling into someone’s arms…
There are arms that are strong, but tender.
Those arms will always pick us up again, and welcome us back home.
“Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy…” (Jude 1:24)
...falling in love over and over again...