So in the end, I had surgery on my shoulder, full rotator cuff repair, bits of bone and tendon removed and ground and tacked. I would very sincerely not recommend this surgery to anyone. Not that anything went wrong: quite to the contrary, the orthopod was excellent and I am healing well and beyond expectation. Gone is that nasty crepitus, the bone grinding on bone I had when I lifted my arm, and my range of motion is nearly normal. For this I am profoundly grateful. But the surgery itself is truly wretched. I was thinking, of course, I would be up and about in one or two weeks; the reality is I spent the first three weeks sucking back Percocets and watching CSI reruns and EWTN (don't ask) on the satellite receiver my father kindly brought me. (Narcotics make you do strange things. At least I didn't fall asleep during meeting, though it was a close run thing a couple of times.)
Lest it be understood I have spent the entire past two months necking with Morpheus and watching police procedurals and The Best of Mother Angelica Live! , I actually did some writing (though not enough), read a great deal, did work on various Friendly projects --- enough, I think to keep from going completely buggy. But as a sabbatical from work, it has a lot to be desired.
Some things I learned:
1. Patience, patience, patience. Healing doesn't happen overnight. Applies spiritually too. A glib analogy, maybe. But having the surgery really puts it to the point. When I wrote my membership letter to my meeting I wrote about the transformative experience of convincement, something I knew in my heart better than I could express in words. I think now in part what I meant was coming to terms with brokeness in spirit. For all the gifts I experienced as a Catholic, the brokeness I felt never healed. And I guess we are all broken in some way. The healing comes in realizing that in the deep centre, where the Light speaks and comforts us, the brokeness doesn't matter, that God has uses for the broken bits; it is not a realization that comes at once, but gradually, as if the Light is seeking us like we might gain the trust of a child, carefully. We might bolt at any second! But God is persistant. . . and patient. I wonder if we need to be patient too, in receiving the Light. God can't heal us unless we trust, and if we have been wounded, trust doesn't come easily. But with patience, it will.
2. Two new queries , gleaned from an essay by Douglas Steere :
"Was thee faithful?" and "Did thee yield?" are not archaic echoes of personal queries Friends used to ask themselves centuries ago in the first flush of their discovery. More than one member has hurried off to do something on which the divine accent has settled in the meeting. Concerns for certain social situations have sprung out of the meeting. Few leave without some refreshment, some sensitizing, and without at least a tiny nosegay of those mountain flowers that Francis de Sales declared to be there on the heights waiting to be plucked by every true worshipper.
The neat practicality and elegance of these queries are admirable. Each contains a universe of meaning and thought and Friends practice. This is what I mean: near to where I live are the Petroglyphs, a truly amazing series of rock carvings held sacred by the First Nations. Each petroglyph (as I crudely understand it) represents not a particular element in a sacred story but meaning, belief, history, symbolism that can be only intrepreted in relation to other glyphs: together they provide a narrative and a way to the Divine. At their laconic best, queries ought to do the same, in words. I can calculate the meaning of "Was thee faithful?" almost to the nth degree and the same with "Did thee yield?": each contains entities, strong echoes and voices of Quaker history and faith, belief and practice. Contemplated together: a narration of faith, words which can challenge us to live our faithfully and let us celebrate the depth and richness of our faith at the same time.