Ankle Deep in Gratitude

bryn englewood backyard copy.jpg
My back garden…as it was 10 years ago

As many of you know, I’m a distance runner. Amateur at best, but dedicated. I had intentions of a long one today. Perhaps twelve miles or so.

I’d only managed to get about four miles when I looked behind me to see whether the dog following me was hungry for man-flesh. In the split second that took, I went over on my right ankle. Having done this before, I knew instantly what had happened. It was a bad sprain.

But, being the OCD runner I am, I ran for another mile or so desperately trying to get back home. Finally, my better judgement and a rather insurmountable amount of pain, told me to stop. I called my son to come and pick me up.

I sat on the roadside and admitted, I was licked.

What a colossal interruption this is. Holes need digging where broken sprinkler pipe cries out to be fixed. Paint requiring touchups mocks me. My water softener isn’t softening anything. And, the room where I typically write and read is so messy right now that outside just feels tidier.

Instead, in these moments, I am practicing gratitude.

As it would seem, I’m now forced into the relative calm and predictability of convalescence. Foot elevated, ice-pack on, I write from the quiet of my own garden. It has become the pause I’ve needed to stop awhile and just be grateful.

Too often, we yearn for stillness and quiet but are too busy running. We see it in our rearview mirrors while busily flitting about doing our earth-shattering stuff. Sometimes quiet must be forced upon us. Then we can be reintroduced to the beauty and numerous healing qualities to be found in the mundane – the cascading days full of the low-hanging fruit of the habitual and simple.

For this contemplative inactivity I am grateful. 

Revealed to me again and again is the undeniable fact that life lived from the inside out in the numbing predictability of daily routine is what offers the best possible backdrop for growth and maturity. With that, I can hear all who know me well whispering a collective, “finally, he’s catching on!”

For the love of sarcastic friends, I am grateful.

In the past, this quiet banality has provided a solid, unmoving garden in which to cultivate new life, the vines of plenitude. A crucible of context in which life’s inevitable crush, those pestles of pain, the rosy-cheeked cherubs of challenge, either great or small, can do their work unimpeded.

I suppose I could treat this as a gestation for artistic endeavour?

For opportunities and the ability to create, I give thanks.

The nurture of the womb is such a great metaphor for both spiritual and biological growth. Depending upon our inner posture, it can seem either an endless tomb of waiting in darkness, or training for light yet to come. Surely the dark, suffocating uterine walls will someday open up to push us out into the light?

Right?

Into a newer, broader world – cold, unpredictable, unrecognizable, but dependent on others more than the safety of amniotic isolation. It’s about new birth into bright, new possibilities more than escape from the safety of a womb-prison.

For waiting periods afforded by pain, I am grateful.

Oh well, we cannot be emissaries of grace to the world until we become friends with our own. Until we hear our own voices, the songs of our own hearts, and make peace with circumstances, we can never sing a convincing song of freedom for anyone else.

For acquiescing once more to the steady silence of my own heart, I am grateful.

Therefore, in the process of ankle rejuvenation, I shall take to soul reconstruction as well. And, in the interest of improving upon my general grasp of things, in this time of relative calm, I stretch myself out like the newborn fresh from his damp waiting room. I take a few deep breaths, get my bearings, and squint against the brighter light of this present moment.

I get a new ice pack.

Then, I smile, and give thanks.

 

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