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Walking with a Limp

April 3, 2013

Sometimes, things happen when you are young that changes things forever.  Often, when you make the decision to do something,  you don’t realize the consequences are forever.  When you are 20 years old, forever seems to be long to be affected by one decision.

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But it happens.  Twenty was a pivotal year for me.  The scars I received when I was twenty still remain.  They ache sometimes, they move me to tears sometimes, and they remind me why I need God often.  I lost two friends when I was twenty–not to a disagreement or a falling out, but to them moving on–higher up and farther on, as CS Lewis describes heaven.  I worked with them that summer at a Christian camp–eating peanut butter straight from the jar and then dipped into brown sugar with a friend who was bulking up for a football season he would never get to play.  He brought us cantaloupes from his family farm that we would cut in half and fill with vanilla ice cream.  We hiked at the back of the group on groups, discussing important things–like how good rain was, not the plan spoiler it was often assumed to be, but a break from scheduled events.  A few weeks later, I struggled to sing at his funeral.  I clung to two other friends–one who gave me the cross he wore all summer at camp.  I wore that cross as I traveled to Guatemala for a semester abroad.  Three months after I returned from Guatemala, I would attend his funeral as well.

 

I read a friend’s blog recently who I also knew from that time, a friend who also shares those scars of their losses, and one of her posts talked of the consequences of their deaths on her.  I realized how little the group of us who worked at the camp shared after our co-workers’ deaths.  My grief became mine alone and I failed to recognize that all of us carried scars from the incredible summer that ended in grief.

I walk slow.

I walk slow.

Take my hand, help me on my way.

In between the deaths of my friends, I also managed to severely break my leg during my semester in Guatemala, bone sticking out and everything.  I was a runner.  I never ran again, at least more than to scoop up a crying child or to play Capture the Flag with my fourth grade students.  The long runs that cleared my head were gone.  In time, I would endure two more surgeries after I broke my leg to try to ease the pain I lived with.  The scars are still visible and and I can win almost any who has the worst scars contest, especially when I point out that my scar is rounded because that is where the bone came out.  I had to redefine who I was, not an easy task for anyone, especially a twenty year old.

I walk slow.

I walk slow.

Take my hand, help me on my way.

Most of the time, the scars I received when I was twenty are forgotten.  I notice my ankle sometimes in October when we get our first big cold fronts.  I’m often sad in the middle of August, around the time my first friend died.  I freak out a bit whenever I hear of someone being diagnosed with lupus, the disease my second friend died from.  Most of the time, I forget how much those events shaped me who into I am today, how they shaped how I see God, death, and heaven, and how it changed how I prayed.

I walk slow.

I walk slow.

Take my hand, help me on my way.

I remember though.  Those scars are always there, whether or not I am remembering them.

On Good Friday, I found my service of music, with minimal words, because on Good Friday, I need to mourn and pray, not to listen to talking.  After we left the beautiful sanctuary in silence, I made my way to the labyrinth that was on the church grounds.  Day was ending, the sky had the not light, not dark feeling.  I slowly began my walk around the labyrinth.  I didn’t need to worry about where I was going, there was but one way to go in a labyrinth.  It is not a maze, it is a path that leads you to the Center, to the heart of all that is.  I walked slowly.  I walked with a limp.

Most of the time, when I walk, no one can tell I am crippled.  Except.  Except when I walk slow.  Once I slow down enough, I limp.  My gait is uneven and I am aware of how scarred I am.

On Good Friday, I remembered how scarred I am.  I walk with a limp.  I walk slow.  I need God to take my hand, to help me on my way.  As I celebrate the many days of Easter in the church calendar, I remember how scarred I am.  I remember how God worked in that time I when I was twenty and struggling.  Over and over, the Israelites are instructed to remember how God had been present to them in their escape from Egypt, their time in the dessert, their conquest of Canaan.  This Easter season, I remember how God has been with me and will be with me as I walk slowly and I limp along.  I remember God’s grace and mercy throughout the many seasons of my life.

My limp is good.  My limp is my reminder that I need God.

(Quote is from Mumford and Son’s song, Lovers’ Eyes.  It may not used exactly in the context of the song, but it was the song I thought of asI slowly limped through the labyrinth).

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