"Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, And grace will lead me home."
This isn’t the first time I’ve shared the first part of this story with you, so bear with me, please. There will be a point, in the end, as there always is.
Several years ago, I fell out of bed as I tried to transfer to my chair. This wasn’t just any other fall, though. I weighed only seventy-five pounds, slept in only forty minute spurts, had a PICC line in my arm, and was, well, dying. I landed on the hard, cold wooden floor of my, then, apartment. I tried about forty times to hoist my broken and just nothing left to give body back into my wheelchair, but learned this was an exercise in futility. Not only did my bones come crashing down to the floor, I pulled my IV, and all other sorts of body shutting down things occurred, right there all over the floor.
It was January, and the temperatures were well below zero. I didn’t have a phone nearby and scooting across the floor, while paralyzed and with open wounds from infection, wasn’t an option. And, at this point, I didn’t want to call anyone else for help. Asking for help becomes exhausting. Most people expect something in return. And I grew a little cold towards all I had to carry, in addition to the paybacks for help. We are all human and I understand expectation, but expectation is right up there with envy and gluttony, and all the things that bring us down to an inhumane level. I needed to either, figure out how to rise into my chair all on my own, or just forget it.
Belle came into my room. I gave her a big hug and asked her to return to her couch in the living room and promised I would cuddle her later. I didn’t want her to witness anything painful. I knew the reality of my options - get in the chair or just be at peace with the end right there on the cold, wooden floor. After several more attempts, I gave up on the trying. I propped up my legs and pulled them tightly to my chest. I leaned my back against my metal bed frame, had a good cry, and I screamed for a few minutes. And, then one more time, I screamed and looked up and cried, “You just have to help me, you just have to help me. No one else can help me. You just have to help me.”
I never expected an answer. I felt I was on that floor for a reason. I felt ashamed and devastated and all the words that make us feel less than. I knew this might be my time because I felt unworthy. Unworthy of help. Worthless was a word I knew well. But, as the up above always does, I was reassured. I felt a tiny bit of grace. A calmness took over. Maybe it was the exhaustion, maybe it was the screaming, maybe it was the pulled PICC line and loss of blood dripping down my arm, I don’t know. But, I took a few deep breaths, and I tried one last time to lift my shattered body into my own wheelchair. And, I did it. In one instant, I positioned my body one more time, grabbed a hold of the wheelchair in just the right place, and lifted my body, so gracefully it caught me off guard, and landed square in my chair. I looked up, again and said, “Ha, well thanks.”
I took a shower, called a nurse, and everything was put back in place. The next day, I called a friend and told him this story. And, he said, “Oh Sarah. Didn’t you just want to play Amazing Grace at full volume and sing your heart out?”
Fast forward to today. I wrote a post for you about morning practice and how it changed and changes me. How spending those first five minutes I wake up in meditation, or prayer, or both, sets my entire day. I don’t mean I stop the bad stuff, the falls, or the chaos. I mean I learn to find a bit of grace when I am on the floor - so to speak. I learn I will be okay and can pull my body back into my chair. I learn I am always given grace. Grace is mine, grace is yours, grace is ours.
Morning practice of the mind - whether it is prayer or meditation - whatever anyone chooses, is a crucial part of acknowledging grace. I know when I skip it because the falls are harder and more devastating and I forget about looking above and asking for help. I think I am all alone. These grace muscles, just like my morning arm and body workouts, need to be developed, too.
Today was rainy and cold, in May. All signs might point to hopelessness. The last few weeks I felt on that floor again. My body slipped backwards, again, and because of so much stress and so much illness, again, I couldn’t chew or swallow food. I stopped looking in the mirror because I couldn’t stand the sight of my frail body, again. I continued to remember that night on the cold floor and wanted the memories to stop. Yesterday wasn’t as bad though. I gained a few pounds and the doctor said I was healing, again. This new jolt of hope, despite the cold and the rain and the greyness, means today wasn’t so bad, either.
And, then the grace happened. And, today went from not so bad, to miraculous. Just like that paper-thin paged book I pick up, every single morning and read and study called, A Course in Miracles, promises will happen. Today was all about grace.
Grace shows up. We notice her when we need her most. Although, we may fail to notice her on the easier days, she shows up everyday in the tiniest ways. She’s always there, begging us to notice.
Like today. The rain and the cold urged me to work on the garden. Well, research ideas for the garden. I researched a fence and the small garden I could plant and grow up against it. I researched a hummingbird feeder, a bird bath, and wind chimes. I found some wind chimes I liked and decided to read the description. Here is what I read.
And then chills covered my body. Not even a week ago, I told Clodagh the story of John Newton. I told her this story because it is one of my favorites. This story is grace. We can turn our boat around at any time. We are always in a state of grace, we just have to finally realize it, and turn the ship around and head home.
Reading that description of the silly wind chimes was enough chills for the day. Enough recognition of grace. I sent Clodagh the description. I sent it, accompanied with a text in all caps, “REMEMBER THAT STORY I JUST TOLD YOU, LOOK AT THIS!”
Clodagh called almost immediately. She is on a much needed vacation with her children. She said, “Sarah, I am going to send you a photo of what I bought you in the hotel gift shop, last night. I bought it because you told me about Ashlea and the magnets. I never buy magnets. I hate fridge magnets. But, you told me you bought the magnets to hang up stuff from her kids, so I thought, alright I'll look at fridge magnets. So, this is the one I chose, just for you. It reminded me of the story you told me about John Newton. I just had to get it for you.”
Yes, that is the actual magnet she bought just for me. Because I told her the story of the guy who wrote Amazing Grace. She bought it well before I researched the hummingbird feeder and the fence and the flowers and the wind chimes.
Grace. She will always shows up - oh she shows up. And, just as my friend said the next morning after that night on the floor, “Don’t you just want to play Amazing Grace at full volume and sing your heart out?”
Yes, yes I do.