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Reflections on the beauty and complexity of the natural world.
The sensation of never having full control of our physical lives is something that everyone understands.
I never ask that question when good things happen to me. If we get an unexpected blessing – a monetary gift when we most need it and least expect it, a visit from a long lost and dear friend, the good news that the voice problems are an allergy instead of (cue serious, threatening music here) cancer, I don’t ask “Why me, Lord? Why did you bless me this way? What have I done to deserve this?” Mostly I say a heartfelt “Oh, thank you!” and enjoy the blessing.
But let the hot water heater die before the end of the month, or the really awful aunt drop in for a visit, or the voice gets worse at the wrong time of year, so it’s not an allergy, and it comes out: “Why me, Lord? Why does this happen to me? What did I ever do to deserve this?” (You’d think confession would answer that question, but I never seem to connect the dots!)
Some may call me crazy, but here’s the truth. I’m grateful to have multiple sclerosis.
Diagnosed 11 years ago, I was shocked into a state of clarity when my body betrayed me for the first time. And why wouldn’t it? I’d been blessed with my youth, my family, and my faith—which hadn’t been truly tested until my vision went double as I was driving on the side of the mountain near my parent's house in Tennessee.
It was a typical cloudy, drizzly morning in a Seattle suburb near my home. I had just taken my dog for a walk in a park near my daughter’s school. Funny how empty the park is today, I thought to myself. Usually, there were at least a few people on their morning walks or a toddler or two in the playground swings. I gave my pup a boost into the car and slid into the driver’s seat, turning the keys into the ignition. I looked down to check my phone for emails before I drove off and then looked up. A tall man in his twenties wearing a backpack and hooded jacket was walking toward me, a woman alone, in an unlocked car, in an isolated parking spot.
I’ve been silenced. My vocal chords have left home with no forwarding address. I just hope they’re having a great time. And that if they find my memory, they’ll all come home together. We can have a reunion, guys! I’ll bake a chocolate cake. The sinful one, with a pound of butter and a pound and a half of chocolate!
“This is trouble.” The emergency room doctor shook his head, pointing at the x-ray displaying the shattered bones of my left foot. “I don’t think she will ever walk again.” My Mom, Dad, and I stared at the x-ray, speechless. The doctor looked at us with pity and concern. He offered the option of having my foot fused but warned that I would have a strong limp for the rest of my life. I was fifteen years old, a competitive swimmer, active in the Greek folk dance group in my church, and a very active teenager. These were not the words I wanted to hear at this time in my life.
If we look carefully enough, we can see God all around us. Of course, it's easy to see God in the beautiful: in flowers, in the ocean, in the eyes of a newborn child. It can be harder to see God in a heaping pile of compost. And yet, there He is, demonstrating His Paschal gift to us in the most beautiful way.
Does global warming matter? On one level, I believe the answer is yes, it does matter. It matters a lot. It matters so much our lives depend on it. But I'm not here today to make the case that global warming matters. Instead, I'm going to make the case that it does NOT matter.