The Scream

The road to recovery following my knee surgery was rough, as you may have read.  The issue was not so much my knee (although it still isn’t 100%) as it was other complications.  The long and the short of the story was that I spent over two months going back and forth between my bed and the couch with not much else in between.

When I recently started to feel better, I felt this tremendous desire to piece life back together.  My understanding was that life, in that season, had been broken and fragmented and now the very best thing was to try to fix it.

Piece it back together.  The words were almost palpable, visible, like a branding or watermark over the images of my life.

Piece it back together.

My mission:  Restore order.

Spend better time with the kids.

Catch up on piles of work.

Start to exercise again.

Be productive.

Make every moment count.

Put it back together again.

So, I asked Jesus how.  How do we piece it back together again?

His response stopped me in my tracks: “It was never broken.”

What do you mean, it was never broken?  Weren’t you there?  It felt very broken, with so many things inverted and out of place like a puzzle scattered on the table with no box top to guide you.

So many pieces.

“It was a whole picture,” he said.  “Just not the one you wanted.”

Then, swiftly and quietly, the image of E. Munch’s The Scream:


The Scream

It wasn’t broken.  It was a complete picture.  Just one picture in a series.

It wasn’t broken after all; it was whole.  A whole searing image of enduring pain.  One we love and hate.  We love it because it captivates, validates, swirls with humanity.  We hate it when it is our own mouth dropped open, dark sounds spilling out through our hands as if we were trying to block the opening but somehow can’t maneouver them to a right position of silence.

We are torqued and skeletal with pain.  While the dark river threatens to sweep us off the page, others walk by unhearing, unbent, toward bright skies.

When we are in The Scream, we feel like our feet our stuck to the bridge, our hands glued to our face.  We are unmoving.  Just plain stuck.  Frozen.  Too tired to do anything but let our insides spill out in lament.

And I want to rearrange the image.  Ease up the corners of the open mouth into a smile, hands clapped to cheeks in wonder.  Swap out the turbulent sky for a fiery sunset, the kind that ignites inspiration.  I’d move the people closer together and soften the movement implied in the environment.  Maybe I’d add a few brush strokes that suggest trees or blossoms—something alive.

Because I don’t like to equate hard with whole.

But what if the challenge is to view hard as whole, as passing and limited?  What if the hard image is merely one contained image in a larger body of work?  What we allow for a full range of human emotion in the gallery of what we consider beautiful or at least meaningful?

If we stop and pause to consider the significance of what currently frames us instead of desperately trying to unstick our hands and feet to run to the next canvas, we might find something redemptive after all.

Do you agree?


Peas, Knees and T3s

I had my surgery this week. It involved a little more pre-op hoopla than I expected. Turns out that if the doctor squeezes you in, there might be a few important pieces of information that you don’t hear about ahead of time. At a few points, it looked like it just wasn’t going to happen.

One example: in the health region, you need a pre-op physical from your GP before you can have your surgery. Good thing I found this out 2 hours before I had to leave for my surgery. We stopped everything and prayed. Even though my doctor was covering for someone else, he squeezed me in. All the other details came together too. Thank God.

I’m waiting for my post-op visit to find out all the details but it looks like my meniscus was not torn but there was a problem with the bone surface that he was able to fix.

I’ve spent more time in bed this week than I have in the last, oh, year maybe. I no longer have any right to complain about being behind in the sleep department, especially not to my dear husband playing Mr. Mom.

The first few days were spent with my favourite bag of peas, a pillow under my leg and pleading with the clock to hurry up so I could take more medication. Just as my knee started improving, I got hit with the mother of all headaches and her nauseating minions. Let’s just say it is bad if I lay down. And if I sit up or stand, ha! Brutal. Apparently the nausea we were trying to avoid with the general anesthetic has been trumped by the spinal headache. You can go away now, headache. Pretty please.

And with that said, my eyes cannot take more computer screen, so I sign off to continue my hibernation. Little Micah is fast asleep beside me so I think I will enjoy a wee snuggle before he decides to wake and jump on me like a trampoline. I kid you not. The giggle is worth it.

On Walking With A Limp

I have injured my knee.  It has been two long months now and it is still bugging me, still restricting my movement and cramping my style.  Two doctors have said it is a torn meniscus.  That means that I’ve torn the cartilage that cushions the bones as the joint moves.  This also means that my exercise programs with words in the titles like, say, Extreme, Insane and Asylum are o.u.t.  Bummer.

I now carefully measure my steps, maximize trips up and down stairs, ask my son for help getting things that are a few feet away so I don’t have to get up.  I’ve packed away my cute boots with the heels for the silly ones that were supposed to be for the yard.

I’ve been on a waiting list to get on the waiting list for a specialist appointment to get on a waiting list for surgery.  At least that’s how I think it works.  Just this week, there was finally a cancellation and I actually have an appointment.  All I know is that the word waiting keeps popping up.

Ah, yes, waiting.  My life’s theme.  You’d think I’d be good at it by now.  I should know how empty hands make the holding sweeter.

No matter how much I wrestle with waiting, it seems to catch me off guard, having the upper hand, the swifter moves.  It evades my attempts to understand it, to master it, to simply sit still.

I try it all.  “You aren’t fair, Waiting.  I didn’t ask for you.  Go away.”

“Now look here, Waiting.  I’m in charge.  Here’s my plan and it doesn’t include you.  Now go!”

Ask me how well this has worked for me.

The answer: it hasn’t.

The irony of my impatience with the process of learning patience is not lost on me.

With this injury, I walk differently, limping, tentative.  I sleep differently, waking often when I stretch my leg too far or bend it too much.  My muscles are atrophying, my resistance has gone down.  I have redefined exertion, rest.  I’ve had to reframe everything from my exercise plans to my wardrobe.

And isn’t that the way it is when we wait?  We have to reframe all things.  Our expectations, our capacities, our priorities.

I’ve come to the conclusion I don’t want to simply escape the dreaded wait and appease my impatience.  I want to wrestle, not as someone struggling against struggle;  I want to fight until my character changes, to grab ahold of the hardship and demand that it change me, rename me, then walk away.  Limping but new.

Exciting update: I called the office this week just as a cancellation came in and got an appointment for the same week.  When I saw the surgeon, he told me he could fit me in the next week for surgery since one patient wouldn’t need the full time allotted to them.  Yay God!  Next week it is!