Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bright Wings

Sunday, May 4, 2008

One of Katherine’s favorite teachers told me that she was the most “God-besotted” child she’d ever seen. I love that expression. It has stuck with me ever since.“Besotted” connotes a state of either stupid, muddled drunkenness, or one of total infatuation. Katherine was just plain punch-drunk in love with God. Willing to be a ‘fool for Christ’ when it was exceedingly uncool late middle school, early high school, for instance. She memorized this poem for an English class:

God’s Grandeur (Gerard Manley Hopkins)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

That first line has been playing around in my head as I walk from hotel to hospital and back again. Spending too much time in a hospital makes going outside seem like getting glasses for the first time when you’ve been extremely near-sighted all of your life. Suddenly, you notice every leaf, wisp of cloud, and vibrant flower, like Eve waking up in the Garden. I realize that, as desperately as we human beings try, we will never fully succeed in ruining the creation because of the innate life-renewing force beneath and behind it all. The world still vibrates with the mystical tingling electricity of its’ Maker, fired by the gentle warmth of his ineffable Spirit. “The wind blows where it may...”

Now He flies low to earth, and gathers us under his wings of protective love. I felt this last night when I pulled the curtain around and snuck in bed with my little wounded one. She kept beckoning me with her good left hand, gracefully circling me closer and closer until I couldn’t resist. Gingerly, carefully, I stationed myself above the catheter, below the ventilator on a tiny sliver of sheet. She took my hand and placed it on her shaking chest, pounded by violent shivering from the ice water coursing through her veins. I tickled her arm with my free hand. She reached up and tickled mine as I pressed her chest. I put one leg over hers. She put one over mine, cast and all, making the Mommy/Kat sandwich that was our favorite childhood snuggle. I hummed one of our baby songs. This scripture entered my head:

The LORD your God is with you... He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 5:17)

Thinking about it this morning, I wondered how many times I’ve been one of those to whom Jesus referred when he said, “ often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under wings, but you were not willing.” (Matt. 23:37) Squirming out of his lap like my ‘busy one’ tried to do with me every bedtime, I have run off to get in trouble on my own. Why does it so often take broken wings to make us rest in our parent’s arms?

May this Sabbath be a day of rest for all of us.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge...
(Psalm 91:4)

The Day of Prayer

Monday, May 2, 2008 6:45 a.m.

I guess someone had mentioned earlier that yesterday was the “National Day of Prayer,” but it went in one ear and out the other. I noticed it just now in checking the journal entries from yesterday. What an understatement.

As Syd has written in the Caringbridge journal, the day started off with Virgil. Virgil is our brother. He was the security guard on duty the night this journey began. He is a beautiful African American angel, evidently sent on a divine mission to us. He is also a preacher. He had already bonded with Jay (and the 100 friends in the lobby) by the time I arrived around midnight, so I don’t know how the friendship began. But he has been a faithful one ever since, frequently stopping by to ask about Katherine’s progress. Yesterday morning he came by the Outpost to check on us and to give us some good words to chew on. Then he made his request: Could he go up to see Katherine? Now supposedly it is “Family Only” in ICU. Obviously we’ve been stretching that to include the family-related-through-our-brother-Christ, the ‘firstborn of many brethren,’ but we have at least tried to stick to people Katherine knows and loves well. Jay and I looked at each other for a second. I heard myself saying, “He can go up with me.” Just then Virgil received a call on his walkie-talkie, and said he’d be right back after checking on whatever disturbance was occurring. (This is a hospital you might have heard mentioned in People magazine or the you never know what might be happening.) I went on up to prepare Katherine for the visit of a perfect stranger. She shrugged her shoulders (which means “whatever”) just as Virgil arrived at the door.

We got right down to business. Virgil took her right hand while I took the left. He started off at a moderate pace and volume, but then he really got going. Now, I will say there is almost no praying like our African American brothers’ praying. I just love it. It makes me feel safe and strong, like my grandmother’s lap. I found myself “Amening” and “Yes-ing” as he blessed her from the top of her head to the soles of her feet and back again. It was beautiful, powerful, lengthy prayer. Towards the end I became aware that Kat’s close friends J.T. and Syd had joined us. As Virgil finished praying, J.T. announced to Katherine that they were there, and her eyes flew open. From that time on, intermittently throughout the rest of the day, she vigorously tried to communicate.

A short while after Virgil left, a distinguished-looking Nigerian gentleman, aptly named Isaiah, appeared at the door to pray. A sweet lady deacon named Elizabeth Chow stopped by for short one (and a head massage for me!) Later that evening, Katherine’s discipleship group came up to sing and pray. For dessert, some elders of the church showed up around 9:00 p.m. to follow the injunction in James 5:14.

Katherine was soaked and saturated in palpable prayer all day long. Swimming in it.

There are many things I don’t understand about prayer.

But this is one thing I do know:

My daughter was "signing" that she loved me from morning until night.

(That was one I hadn’t even asked for.)


Exceedingly abundantly...

The Darling Buds of May

Thursday, May 1, 2008 6:20 a.m.

A few days (or nights?) ago, I was alone in the room with Katherine. Those are the times when I really 'let it rip' prayer-wise. Sometimes I hold her right hand in mine and gently place my left hand on her forehead. (Remind me to tell you about the first time I did is another, longer story. Pray that I'll remember it all.) This time, as I was praying about the renewal and restoration of every cell and molecule of her brain, I got a visual effect. I saw a strange-looking yellowish bud begin to blossom from the site of the trauma. I don't think I have words to describe it. It was like something from an early Disney cartoon, "Fantasia" perhaps. It looked like a magic cobra spiralling up from the swami's basket. There was no green vine; each unfolding of the petals just produced another, larger blossom which begat another. It wound its way up from the base of her skull towards her forehead, undulating its way slightly from side to side as it grew. Strange.

Now, I'm not necessarily claiming to have had some kind of mystic vision here. I do have a very over-active imagination...sometimes to my great detriment. But for some reason, something she said inspired me to share this story with the head pastor's wife when she came to the hospital to pray for me.

Last night, I was so tired I couldn't even face the group dinner that Kat and Jay's loving friends continue to bring to the hospital. I dragged back to the hotel, plopped down on the bed, and sipped a glass of the wine that Katherine's friend Sally left as a gift for me. It was the first time all day I'd had a chance to check the voicemails. There was one from 'Miss Tanya,' a close friend of Jay's mother Mary Ruth, that Katherine and I claim, too. She is a MAJOR life-force. She and Katherine adore each other...kindred spirits. She is devastated about all of this, and it has brought out righteous anger against the forces of evil in the universe. I have no doubt that she is up in arms against them, and I have a feeling it will be a rout. In her message, she told me that while praying the Word over Katherine, she received one back. She said that there is a great storm going on in unseen realms. She encouraged me to "Find your place in the storm and take a stand. There you will not be moved, though the storm is raging all around you." She said that the little adage, "April showers bring May flowers" had come to her. The storms of April will bring forth buds in Katherine that will blossom into flowers of a rare and beautiful fragrance. (A fragrant offering to our Lord?)

We are living in mysteries.

...and Mary pondered all these things in her heart...

A Bruised Reed

Tuesday, April 29, 8:00 a.m.

I spent over an hour yesterday writing of how Katherine is affecting the doctors and other staff at the hospital...but, technophobe that I am, I let the cyberspace monster eat it. Maybe Kat’s smart friend Lauren will be able to help me retrieve it later. So this will be a short one.

Yesterday, the neurology squad came through and I talked to Dr. S. No warm and fuzzies there. He told me very clearly that Katherine will be in ICU for WEEKS. Her life is not out of danger. She remains critically ill. There are things that can still go wrong at this point, but I don’t know how to spell them. It doesn’t matter. God knows what they are.

For some reason, I need to tell you how she looks. (Don’t read this if you’re might be too real.) My beautiful girl was fairly unrecognizable until she opened her eyes and a shot of that unique aqua blue flashed out. She had a huge ventilator tube twisting her swollen, torn lips to one side and a feeding tube distorting her nose. Since we’ve switched to a tracheotomy and feeding tube in the stomach, she looks more like Katherine, although her face and neck are still swollen. Her head has been shaved in patches. It looks like an unlovely patchwork quilt. There is a square on the right front part of her head with several angry-looking holes, one of which has a tube coming out of it. There is a large shaved area across the back, where the main vertical incision was. But she still wears the matted ponytail of what’s left on top, darkened by crusty dried blood. Clear tape covers much of the whole mess. There are ‘boo-boos’ all over her body from one ghastly life-saving procedure after another. Tiny machines are attached to tubes entering her arms, hands, abdomen, thighs...which are hooked up to big scary-looking machines crowded around the bed. Her calves are in soft Velcro casts, and one foot (at a time) is in a harder contraption meant to strengthen a particular muscle that will enable her to walk again one day. But it is her eyes that make me want to wail like those women whose “weeping was heard in Ramah.” Those big beautiful aqua eyes, clear as a pristine sea, are out of Katherine’s control. Eyes that could pierce straight through you, eyes that focused in on you as if you’re the only one that matters, now roll around the sockets like big blue-green glass marbles. The right one is infected, red, and suppurating. The pupil hides in the inner corner for the most part, like it’s afraid of what it will see if it comes out. The left is constantly jumping around, but I know she can see out of it. A tear rolled down her cheek when I showed her a picture of James. (But, tough chick that she is, she let me know she wanted to see more.) Most of the time a black patch covers one eye (alternating sides), so she looks like a battered little pirate.

Seeing her like this just got to me last night. Conversation flagged. I decided to play Bible Roulette. Here are some excerpts from the page to which it opened:

...He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle...
God, the Lord, created the heavens and stretched them out....
He created the earth and everything in it.
He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth
And it is he who says, “I, the Lord, have called you to demonstrate my righteousness...
And you will be a light to guide the nations.
You will open the eyes of the blind.
You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons...

(from Isaiah 42 (NLT))

The “you” referred to to here is the 'suffering servant,' whom we believe was revealed as Jesus the Christ.

Precious Katherine, I pray that the Lord God Himself will give you breath and life. I pray that His son Jesus will guide you through this dark place with his light, and will lay his pierced hands on your troubled eyes and heal them completely. I pray that He will release you from this prison of pain, this dark dungeon of despair.

After I finished praying and said “Nite nite, sleep tight...,” I looked at her face one last time. She looked strangely beautiful to me. Somewhere in the background of my mind I could hear Eric Clapton singing, “Darlin’, you look wonderful tonight.”


(Guess I lied about this being a short one.)

Sunday Sunrise

Sunday, April 27, 2008, 6:00 a.m.

Bits of “reality” begin to penetrate the bubble of love.

Katherine may not be able to eat. Katherine’s eyes may not be okay. Yesterday a doctor said to me, “She is very, very sick.” Another told me her situation is still “critical.” Everyone keeps emphasizing the word “months,” as if they really mean “years.” Such intricacies in the human many possibilities of malfunction! Ugly images knock on the door of my mind, try to peak into the windows of my soul, sneak in through the cracks of my broken heart. I start free-falling back down into the Pit of pain and despair. Lines from a poem I wrote when I was there a year or two ago sing-song in my head:

...Day, week, hour, year:
Time itself does not live here-
Only creatures of the night:
Existence not defined by light.

But the sun is coming up now, and I’ve just read an email from my friend Olga in Russia telling me that it is Easter there. I have been praying the resurrection power of Easter into Katherine’s body from the first day of this. I believe, I KNOW, that “The Sun of righteousness is coming with healing in his wings.” Weeping lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning...

I have to go get ready for church now. Bel-Air Presbyterian’s service today is to be a “Service of Prayer and Praise for Katherine Arnold Wolf.” They’ve told me there will be many, many people praying for her.

The creatures of the night will be chased away by praise.

And in a Moment...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Skimming through emails this a.m., I saw this one a friend had written me on the 23rd:

...And in a moment everything changes.

Whatever we can do from the Athens home-front, know we are aching to do it. I have had a vision about your first-born...and it is, in no small measure, heavily influenced by the "Kim Arnold Factor." Katherine has far too much living ahead of her to be slowed down very long by this one. All our hopes and dreams for her return to the people who love her, and to those who love her desperately, are with you. Let me know when I can come to L.A. and spell you at the bedside.

Forever yours, my friend...

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 8:30 PM, Kimberly Arnold ( had written:


Malheuresment, we have an out-of-town Merrill function; but if we get back early enough, I will be there with bells on my fingers and rings on my toes to celebrate your sexy septuaginting(??)....God willing!!! Can't wait for you to join the HGM* club, by the way.........when is yours due?? (I forgot, due to old age.)

Also forgot the date of Book Club...have I missed the 'Cholera' explication/extrapolation? (Am reading it regardless.)

Kim (aka "Mimi, Vivi, Kiki, ETC.)



Obviously, my original email was an RSVP to a friend’s birthday party.

How very true her words are: “And in a moment...” What parties must have been in full progress at Pompei when Vesuvius erupted! I am reminded of that scripture that goes something like, "And when the Son of Man comes, there will be eating and drinking, buying and selling, marrying and being given in marriage..." And in a moment everything changes forever.

Sunday evening’s sassy email is from another life. Less than 24 hours later, we began our existence in a place called the ‘New Normal.’ But I am strangely comforted to note that I had inserted the caveat “God willing” in my response. God’s will was not that we would be at a Merrill function or a birthday party this weekend. It is His will that we are here. Thank God that the trials of the past few years have convinced me beyond a doubt that everything He wills somehow springs out of His perfect love, which is now casting out fear.

Yesterday was grim until very late in the day, when He came through yet again. At one point I was alone in ICU with Kat, trying to keep those horror show pictures of ‘brain damaged’ people out of my mind. I didn’t have much spunk to pray, so I just started reciting any scriptures I could remember. (I always meant to memorize more for “such a time as this.” Do it, my friends!) I was a little surprised (as was the janitor, I’m sure) to hear this one come out of my mouth: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For these light and momentary trials are winning for us a glory that far outweighs them all...” As my friend Lynn reminds me when I’m venting, “It’s only temporary.” I must continuously remind myself that, contrary to what is seen, Katherine is being covered in glory by these ‘momentary’ trials.

Thank you for your consistent prayer, which truly is changing things. I don’t want to take the focus off of Katherine’s healing for a moment, but if anyone feels led to, I could use some prayer for my neck/back/general health, all of which are starting to worsen. My right shoulder pain is getting severe and beginning to interfere with holding the chunky not-so-little monkey. Thank you in advance, as I know you are faithful friends.

Love to you all,


Wednesday, April 23rd

Dear Ones,

It's 5:00 a.m. Cal time. James is sleeping sweetly in a little port-a –crib next to the bed. Brooks just went out for Starbucks, as he got up 3 times with him last night. I slept like the dead through all but one, praise God...with no dreams that I remember. This present reality has a surreal, dream-like feel to it, yet there is a déjà-vu element as well. Maybe it's that out of all my worst dark fantasy imaginings, this ranked in the top 3. How would it feel if it were my child? It almost feels oddly familiar...though perhaps I'm just still in shock. Yesterday (I think....time has no meaning any more) some of Katherine's Athens Academy friends who live in LA (Emily Callaway and Andrew DePalma) came by the hospital to encourage us. Andrew said something about how we can talk about our faith, but it is times like these when we live it. That started a chain of thought when I escaped for some air later on. This is it. This is what we've been in training for, what we've been given preparation for. I'm not ready for the test, but it's too late now to cram for the exam.

I can't do this.

I will have to be carried.

I realize that will depend on whether or not I allow myself to be. There is certainly no dearth of arms here. I have been held and hugged and held up by countless people whose names I don't even know. The lobby of UCLA Med Center has become a sea of love and pizza and baby toys and prayer. The first night they kept politely asking Amie and me to please stop lying on the floor, and told us we needed to get the food out. They have long since thrown in the towel. It seems that there are always 30 or so people waiting, praying, eating, sleeping, being with us. They are weeping 'with those who weep' (us), but they are weeping for themselves as well. It is stunning to hear each one's story of Katherine's significance in their lives. I find myself looking around for her, knowing how she would revel in the party of friends and strangers.....turning them all into friends.

Time's out....Prince James just woke up grumpy.

Reprieve: He's just learned how to hold his own bottle! ( I bought him a t-shirt that says, "What happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's"....this should probably stay in that category.) Katherine had planned on nursing him at least until summer. It is amazing how resilient he's been, suddenly being raised by committee. Katherine's friends here are unbelievably selfless, loving, and hands-on. They are guiding us in being new baby parents again....making schedules, gathering equipment, bringing food, diapers, clothes. He's had his diapers changed by at least 20 different people; been fed, rocked, and put to sleep by others. This is the efficiency of the body of Christ operating in an emergency.

4:00 p.m.: I want to write much more, but there's no time now. It is important to me to do this because I feel that something much bigger than anything I've ever seen before is happening here. In spite of my fear, in spite of doubt, in spite of inadequacy, in spite of sin, in spite of a "bad prognosis," a miracle is taking place. I want to record it as it unfolds.

p.s. When I checked my voicemail this afternoon, I had a message from Kat and Jay's friend J.T. He had left it the night before. Among other things, he said, "Kim, you are being carried." God knows me well, and is anticipating every need. His grace is sufficient. Please keep on carrying me for the long haul. I love you all so much, dear friends. I can't tell you how much the calls, texts, emails, etc. have meant to us. We are overwhelmed.



Hi all. Katherine's mom, Kim Arnold, asked me to set up this blog to allow her to post updates about Katherine's progress while Katherine is recovering (if you are reading this blog, you undoubtedly know what our dear Kat is recovering from). The Arnold family, and of course Katherine's husband Jay, have been overwelmed by the outpouring of love and prayers for Katherine, and they wish they could respond to everyone individually. But obviously, in times like these, that's impossible. This blog has been created to allow those who love Katherine and who love the Arnolds/Wolfs to check in and see how things are going here at the hospital. Please keep this blog private among those who know Katherine and/or the Arnolds/Wolfs personally (but feel free to forward the link to everyone who falls into that category). The arms of the Holy Spirit, along with your prayers, love, and support, are carrying the Arnolds and the Wolfs through this difficult time.

In Him,
Lauren Miller