Sunday, March 9, 2014

Making Peace with Sorrow

I've been crying off and on for two days, hosting a lavish pity party for myself, as I contemplate all the changes this broken foot is bringing to my life.

I review five children's books a month for the online review service Children's Literature (I also find a lot of my reviews for them posted on the Barnes & Noble website). The book I read and reviewed yesterday is a sports novel by Mike Lupica called Game Changers: Heavy Hitters. Toward the end of the book, the main character says, "My dad [is] always telling me to appreciate these seasons [of sports] because nobody ever knows how many they're going to have." Well, that sent me bawling for half an hour, mourning the end (at least for now) of my walking season. Walking is one of what I call my "four pillars of happiness," the four things that bring happiness to every day: writing, reading, walking, being with friends. How can I lose one of these beloved pillars for six whole weeks and maybe even longer?


Then this morning I went to church. Our family made quite the entrance with me in the wheelchair I borrowed from church (I can't do the crutches, I just can't) and Christopher and Ashley proudly carrying in baby Kataleya for her first appearance. I'm in love with the wheelchair already. So much easier to navigate than the rolling desk chair I've been using at home. Everyone had broken foot stories to share with me; apparently I really was long overdue for mine, as everyone else on the planet has had one or two already. And everyone had smiles and hugs and prayers.

I taught my tiny middle school Sunday School class. By some sweet coincidence, the topic prescribed in the curriculum for this week was "encouragement." My three students and I shared some problems for which we need encouragement: a broken foot, an upcoming move, a stressful test at school, and having to get up an hour early for the time change! We took turns giving each other encouragement. The best piece of encouragement I received was from Tyler. He told me this would all work out for me, because "You're good at things. And this is a thing."

Yes! That will be my new mantra. I'm good at things. And this is a thing.

During worship I presented the children's message. I talked about this being the first Sunday of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for Jesus' suffering and death on the cross, followed by the joy of Easter Sunday. I told the children that even though we know that Easter is coming, that light and love will return to the world, there are still seasons of sadness and sorrow in our lives; no human life escapes them. Lent is the time in the church year where we create a space to make our peace with sorrow.

If the doctor's estimate is accurate, Easter sunrise should happen just as I'm allowed to be weight bearing again. Lent this year is going to be my own season of sadness, my own time to make peace with sorrow. It's okay for me to be sad right now. While Tyler is correct that "I'm good at things, and this is a thing," it's also a hard thing. It's permissible for me to whimper a little bit. Maybe it's even okay to wail. Forty days of this, and then the Alleluia of Easter.

I can do this. I can.


  1. It's too bad that we have to experience something bad in order to be truly appreciative of the normal good things in life, but it seems that that's the way it goes. Just think how much you'll appreciate simply getting out of bed and walking to the bathroom in just a few weeks!

  2. Tracy, the sad thing is that I did appreciate this as much as any person who hasn't experienced it could, as I was the caregiver for my mother and father-in-law in their last years. Twenty times a day I'd think, "I can walk! I'm so lucky that I can walk!" But I guess soon I'll appreciate that even more....

  3. Claudia, thank you for sharing The Wisdom of Tyler with us today! I might have to take on that mantra myself....Hoping with you that your foot heals soon and that your Walking Pillar comes 'round speedy-quick, but also glad with you that you are taking time to make peace with sorrow. Jesus said, "Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted." He didn't say, "Blessed are they who put on a happy face and deny their feelings, for they shall be comforted." Comfort only comes to those intimate with mourning. Thank you for sharing. :)

  4. Thanks for the beautiful comment, Heather. Yes, there is more blessing in the heartfelt sad face than in the fake happy face....