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When you look at me

by davesandel on April 17th, 2016

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When you look at me

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”

My room of convalescence fills with sun by 6:30 each morning. Gradually its sky-blue walls brighten and rescue me from night. The weather this week has been wonderful. Beyond the open windows the chickens scrabble all day, hunting for worms.

But all those poetic lines from the bible and other great poetry feel true to me. The hours before dawn can get very dark. Often it is difficult for me to swallow (tube down my throat during surgery?). Now and then I feel stretched out and torn inside at one particular spot on the right side of my abdomen. The swelling in both my legs got much more severe a couple of days ago, and I was surprised and scared.

And then of course there is the stiffness of every muscle in my left leg. Not to mention my new knee. Did I really need this new knee so much after all?

Everyone encourages me. It will get better. Do your exercises, do your work. Stretch and move and wear compression hose and get plenty of rest. Eat, drink, and do jigsaw puzzles, but don’t sit too long. Drink up the Cubs and other fine baseball vintages. Things will be better in the morning.

And they are. I notice some slight increase in range of movement every day, just a week after Dr. Kohlmann made the Long Incision. How thankful am I for that? Very Thankful!

At a day of reflection a week ago, a dozen of us were asked by our spiritual guides Bridget and Eileen, to reflect on personal moments of call, search, struggle, breakthrough, and return – then to put those moments on a timeline. I don’t need to tell most of you that most of those moments occur at times of great love and great suffering.

Just now, I have been massaging the sides of my knee. The shaved skin is growing out again. It’s a little red. The flesh is warm.

And it turns out that the best word for this warmth is not physical but spiritual. I feel … the opposite of depressed. So many of you are praying for healing in my mind and body, and I feel it. I feel … exalted. In spite of my turned-inward, Job-like self-pity, God loves me even through my own hands.

There is healing here. I would not know this if it were not true.

During our day of reflection, Bridget read a prayer from Thomas Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude. Thomas Merton knew he was exalted, knew how loved he was. He saw that we are all walking around, shining like the sun. He also “knew” how much he didn’t know.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.”

Still, Father Merton throws himself on the mercy of Jesus, and in doing so he is exalted. Life is beautiful.

Lord, when you look at me, you smile. You think of where I came from and where I’m going, so I don’t have to guess about what you already know. That’s enough for me. Your look is invitation enough for me to relax and simply BE your son. This created-me knows how much you love; and that it is good, right, true and beautiful for me to love, too. When you look at me.

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