For the past several years, since before my twenty-ninth birthday, I’ve woken up each morning feeling like I’ve been hit by a truck. More accurately, as if that buffalo hit me. Yes…a buffalo, though technically, it was a North-American bison. In opening my eyes to face a new day, in the blink of an eye, I can see the night my dog and I collided with him. The car lights shining on a dark night on the Colorado highway failed to warn us of his shadow standing in the road. We certainly woke him up from a nap, but he crawled off the car and stumbled back into the road behind us to stand again. That buffalo took several years to make me feel the impact of its collision, but I definitely feel it now. I’m lucky: we collided, but nothing shattered, no one died. There’s no question we were protected. It’s really a miracle, but indeed, a miracle that changed everything. Leif Enger wrote, “People fear miracles because they fear being changed-though ignoring them will change you also.” Had I known it was coming, I’m sure I would have been afraid. Now, I pray it has changed me, molded me, transformed me. Now, I fear most ignoring the miraculous in it all.
In his powerful Superpower poem, Steve Gross wrote, “it takes practice…to get beyond the whole half-full, half-empty question, and just be grateful for the glass.” I hope I’ll practice, hope I’ll cultivate that gratitude for the glass I’ve been given. Though I’ve yet to meet another who has shared the experience of hitting a buffalo, I’m definitely not the only one to battle illness, or to spend her life fighting the gravity of life and the depravity of man. As I get moving, get stretching, and receive the warmth of a hot shower each day, I can feel my broken back begin to hold itself upright again. My muscles and joints begin to move more easily, the head clears, and for the rest of the day, I have the ability to move and walk and live well. Many would give anything just to have two legs that can walk. I may have to work pretty hard at making this body functional, but if I do, it functions. Many would give anything to have a body responsive to their cues and efforts. Sure, there’s pain, but I’ve been provided with so many tools, so many gifts, so many friends who love and support me. Mostly, it’s easy to get discouraged when encountering the ways pain has changed me, and resisting the limits it has placed on my life. Again, the choice is presented each day. Albert Einstein once prompted us to choose well: “There are two ways in which you can live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle, or as if everything is a miracle.” I can be grateful and work hard, or I can let pain filter my existence and illness the condition that defines me. Will I choose to awaken to limitation, or to live unlimited? All I must do to maintain a sense of wonder is receive the mercies offered anew every morning.
Most days, with the difficulty of just putting one foot in front of another, it does seem simplest to quit: to stop trying so hard and just let it all take its natural course. If I make that choice, things quickly degenerate. My body can’t get enough of the drug of rest. If I am to live in hope, I must cling to God’s promises. There is no experience wasted and no downward spiral that can separate us from the His love, even those that are self-generated. ALL is being worked for good. The good work that He began, He will complete. Author Roy Lessin affirms this so well, expounding on the reality of God’s Kingdom. It’s a wonderful point:
“Everything in this world is moving in a downward direction-our bodies are a little older than they were yesterday; the parts in our cars have more wear than they had yesterday; even the earth is aging like a worn garment. In God’s kingdom, things are just the opposite for us. Everything moves in an upward direction-we go from faith to faith, from glory to glory, and from strength to strength. Our characters are being conformed to the image of Jesus, our spiritual lives mature, our love for the Lord deepens, and He becomes more precious with time. Today you can confidently say, ‘It is well with my soul…and it will be even better tomorrow.”
This is the hope of our journey in stepping Heavenward, in stepping up.