I'm not a bad blog writer, just a clumsy one. Which is to explain my long absence from this place. I had expected not to be writing much here, in the first place, being spring and all: May and June are busy months for any serious gardener, and I had several hundred plants raised carefully from seed, to go into the ground.
At the same time, I went to the doctor, who of course advised me to get more exercise, maybe play organized sports. I duly joined my workplace's baseball team. On my first time at bat, the very first time I stepped out on the field, and in fact on my very first swing, I hit a little grounder into left field, started running to first, lost my footing, and fell. Hard. So hard I ruptured the biceps tendon in my right shoulder and quite possibly tore the rotator cuff as well.* The result being I spent weeks in weeks more or less in constant pain, unable to move my arm much above the level of my waist. My range of motion, as they say, was limited.
Lesson #1: Baseball is a dangerous game, after all, and I'm not twenty anymore, either.
Lesson #2: Chronic severe pain does't necessarily enlarge the soul. On the other hand, I have a huge amount of empathy now for those who have to live with it.
About a week later, puttering around in the vegetable garden, planting cauliflower, I stepped into a hole about ten inches wide and perhaps six deep, and rotated my left ankle inwards abruptly, and ruptured the ligaments. At that exact moment, I nearly cried with frustration and annoyance. But being stubborn, I tried to walk it off, until I couldn't walk any longer: when I took my sock and shoe off, I found my ankle had swollen to the size of a Grade #2 grapefruit.
Lesson #3: When you think it can't get worse, believe me, it can.
Lesson #4: Crutch walking in these circumstances becomes nigh well impossible.
Interestingly, about the same time, a bolt of lightning took out the satellite television receiver. God has a sense of humour, after all.
Needless to say, I haven't been in the mood for formal writing: I've been reading a lot, writing in my journal, and thinking. My partner has been appointed Head Gardener (Acting), and has gotten a crash course in basic horticulture (Telling Weeds from Valuable Ornamentals and Advanced Vegetables are some of the subjects he's received instruction). The roses I ordered bareroot last winter bloomed brilliantly.
An older Friend, in the middle of all this, came to the farm for a couple of feedbags of rotted horse manure. I hobbled painfully here and there, pointing out the trees, exotic and common, planted since we came to the farm, the perennial beds, the vegetable garden, the roses, the rhododendrons in their acid bed. A small flock of ducks followed us, hoping, I think for handful of grain; the horses, of course, stood and watched us.
She said to me, "What a rich life you have!"
This caught me short. When I said that suffering doesn't enlarge the soul, I meant it. Everything becomes a matter of you and the pain: we are incredibly self-centred creatures, and pain exposes this deadly flaw nicely. We feel sorry for ourselves, and neglect to realize that pain and suffering defines the larger portion of humanity. We despair. We forget the small important things, and especially the produce of our labour and love. Maybe it's our response to pain that makes us bigger than we are.
Another lesson: ministry to enlighten the soul comes at any time. My good Friend certainly gave me some, short and sweet, a rebuke and a way forward at the same time. Answering to that of God in everyone, I think, includes listening carefully for such messages. I'm grateful for having heard it.
*An MRI booked in August will confirm this.