healing arm-y

Whole platoons of things ought to be done. Therefore, of course, I sit to write a blog post.

This morning Tim and I greeted each other near his crackling fire, and then over breakfast our talk was finances. How to navigate the end of the year and pledge our selves and worth to the beginning of a new one. Munching crisp toast, I relished fresh paper and filling in the new budget's blanks. This sort of work always energizes me, as I imagine things lining up and being paid and, I suppose, behaving. Which they never do, but that's beside the point.

Tim's shift at work starts later now on Fridays. By the time he opened the front drape, we remembered the utility people had informed us earlier this week that they would be changing the transformer on the pole this side of our back fence. We'd be without power all morning. The official truck sat on the street; the men were unloading what Tim called an all-terrain power sled for the transformer.

Still in my bathrobe, I couldn't pull my mind or pencil away from our 2013 budget. What do you know, though, daylight from the window above my desk sufficed to illumine my work after the electricity left us. And then Tim lit candles in the bathroom so I could putter at my wash basin in contentment. With water heated on the woodstove I felt thoroughly off the grid. For a whole half hour, at least.

Nearly two weeks ago I injured my right shoulder. The pain throughout the arm gave me the sensation I tend to reach when brought low by physical suffering -- the feeling flashes through me that I will not improve, that this inward-turning endurance will fog the rest of my life. So my emotions groaned. As an added bonus, I caught a bad cold and so delayed several days before calling our chiropractor. The morning of my appointment arrived, thankfully, as well as my shoulder pain's turning point. Still grateful for the treatment I would receive, I sensed the healing of my joint had already begun. Relief and clarity would arrive once again, like the gift of our electric appliance now drying my socks while I blog.

I ponder healing fairly often.

Earlier this year I joined a rotation of friends who drove Nathaniel, a man from our church, to radiation treatments for the tumor overtaking his brain. To and from his appointments, Nathaniel and I had enjoyable conversations about his life, his hopes for his wife and children, and about his sensations confronting an almost-certain loss to his battle of suffering.

The Orthodox Christian view of pain and dying strikes me as pretty amazing, as you might guess. Why else would I have considered anything beyond my fairly comfy Protestant understanding of death as not to be feared, basically a loss of consciousness culminating at some vague future point in my awakening to the final judgment and then, presto, eternal life.

I had not considered sanctification as a process encompassing my body and my soul. I hadn't sensed the possibility of the intrusion of healing. A tiny thing, a mustard seed, perhaps beginning in this life (although if you talked to Nathaniel this past year or earlier, you would know he considered himself very humbly; he never for a moment presumed his salvation secure or his "theosis" having progressed very far, and at the same time he spoke only of trusting God's mercy).

Tonight I think about Nathaniel. Late this morning I conversed with the chiropractor's assistant at my appointment while she administered my shoulder's ultrasound therapy. She informed me about the shooting at a Connecticut school. The latest tragedy. The children. Her fears for her own in our local elementary classrooms.

The end of the world? A fog encompassing life's remainder? A blissful sleep?

I don't know much about longsuffering, and I have experienced very little regarding death. Tim and I spent a wonderful evening in November with Nathaniel and his wife at their dining room table. The last day of that month, Nathaniel died. From our vantage point, he "reposed" in "sleep." The Orthodox services for him, however, provided meaty food for thought regarding his perspective as he begins a more intense phase of his process, as he enters into a life (a world) I can't yet see but that may be as real as electrically-charged particles up on the pole in our backyard, doing the ordinary yet amazing work they do.