Sunday, January 31, 2010

Prayers of the Downtrodden

My husband and I drove downtown today. We went to the hospital to visit a friend. A devastating car accident placed him there about a year ago. He hit a tree head on and never went into shock. He felt his legs shatter and his hip break. He was conscious when the helicopter came to pull him out. Then he lost consciousness for weeks. Against all odds he is still living. His body now full of metal, infection and surgical scars.
As I walked through the lobby and rode the elevator with my husband I became aware of the sterile air, and the force of fear I always face when entering a hospital. The dread is so palpable I don’t even try to notice the details or describe what I find so repulsive. I simply want to be out as quickly as possible.
Our friend feels the same way. He aches for freedom. He has no flowers, no view of the wider world, only a scratchy TV. Gratitude and anger fight within him when he speaks about his situation.
This afternoon, he expressed his longing to get out of bed without help. To drive to a donut shop and get out of the car himself, walk up to the cashier and order an iced coffee and a coffee roll. To him, that will be the ultimate victory. And to me, it is an expected part of my day or week. I walk through life with no wonder, no appreciation for the gift I have been given.
As we continued to talk, he woefully mused that every turn has been a conglomeration of misery and miracles. He noted that his story truly would be one worth reading. He noted that the polarity of the Psalms have been his comfort whether agonizing over his plight or appreciative that he survived. He loves the authenticity of emotion.
And I was struck by the fact that all of our stories are worth reading-that our authentic emotions are valid and valuable. And yet we don’t share them. There are stories that need to be told. Do we have the courage to tell them?

*I plan on exploring the theme of authenticity and emotion for a few weeks. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


  1. Wow...this was a really good blog. I think it took courage for you first of all to step out of your comfort and try writing something new and different. This is a great place to start because every human can identify with this topic.

  2. What struck me even more was how we forget to be thankful for all we have. For those living with constant pain, mental or physical, just surviving a day is a challenge. For us who are relatively healthy (and in America extremely wealthy) let us not forget to be thankful. Truly what unites us, rich or poor, in pain or in health, is our authenticity... sometimes health and wealth mask our selves an taint that authentic expression of our humanity. But when those who have share with those in need.... that is a story worth telling.

  3. Kate, first I want to say that I'm happy you responded to my comment on your last post. Not because of what you said, but because you answered. I sometimes felt that you, as the writer, had simply turned your back and disappeared after posting.

    This is a poignant read - what a dreadful situation to be in for your friend and his struggle to be grateful in the aftermath of something so devastating is treated tenderly and sympathetically in your post. Your writing flows so well - you have a good feel for pacing.

    I have a post waiting in the wings which is very personal story and I hesitate to tell it. But this post has made me think more about what might come of putting it up. You've given me a timely little nudge.

  4. Anne- Thank you for your encouraging comment. I appreciate it.

    JRD- Your comments on gratitude were deep and challenging. I agree that often times we mask ourselves with health and wealth.

    Deborah- I am very glad that this post was timely for you. It is very difficult to share a personal story. I always have a knot in my stomach right before I hit the post button.
    Also, I apologize for being so disconnected as a writer. Often, I have a few hours to write on Sunday and then have to dive back into the world of teaching and don’t stop to catch my breath (and read my comments) until the next Sunday. Thank you for staying connected and continuing to comment. I appreciate it. I will try to be more accessible in the future.

  5. Kate, there was no need for an apology. And I hope you realize that my comment wasn't meant as a rebuke. I don't think you took it that way, though. No pressure here at all to be more accessible - but I do appreciate knowing why you seemed so far away!

  6. Courage. It comes in many forms. Sometimes, it takes courage to be quiet and let others speak and let God answer for us. I don't have to have my voice heard in every situation.

    And, as you write here, it can take courage to tell our story.

    Only we (and God) can ultimately know whether we are choosing courage.

  7. Hi Kate,
    Boy, we do take so much for granted, don't we? I can't imagine what it must feel like to have it all striped away.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and adding to the discussion the other day! I appreciated your input! Have a wonderful day!

  8. Your friend gave me a worthy reminder... the Psalms. Because he is right, there is polarity in those verses; something that we as humans often shy away from in fear of being wrong, sinful, ugly or just plain shameful.

    Authenticity, I like that idea.

  9. Deborah- I did not take your comment as a rebuke at all. I am always grateful for your input!

    Cassandra- I have a poster in my classroom says that sometimes courage is to stand up and speak and other times courage is to sit down and listen. I love those sentiments because I so often forget that very truth. Thank you for reminding me again.

    Jody- I am enjoying your blog. Thanks for taking the time to visit mine.

    Shattered-You are completely right. We are afraid of raw emotion. It is scary to be authentic. Thank you for your willingness to be genuine. I admire that about your blog.