At one time Marty was a fairly prolific writer. With her humor and insight she would have been a wonderful blogger, I guess in effect she is because she inspires so much of this blog. Marty wrote this right after her Mother had a cerebral shunt and a cerebral hematoma. I want to think this happened in 2000 or 2001. It's amazing how close to the bone she cuts this.
This may ramble, but I need to write it now. I am just back from mom having brain surgery twice in one week, lots of very stressful and very frightening stuff. Briefly, Mom is better, out of ICU in the Neuro observation unit, and will probably go to rehab soon. Still quite a bit of confusion and poor coordination of muscles - particularly right side (bled on left side). Language and purposeful movements are most compromised, but all signs are slowly improving and it has not reached a plateau yet.
I am somewhat encouraged; 2 days ago there was only a blank stare. In a detached sort of way, it has been a fascinating process to be a part of. I have learned more in the last 10 days than you can imagine about neurosurgery, suffering, compassion, me, and life in general. It has been an amazing experience, I can't say I'm glad at all that it happened, but I would not trade for having been a part of it. I am changed in very fundamental ways -- although that sounds rather dramatic and a tad histrionic.
My father has been incredible, two phrases he used repeatedly when I would get discouraged, "I'll play whatever hand I'm dealt" and "I'm designed for whatever the job requires." Although I have never admired their relationship except for the longevity of it (51 years) it was awesome to watch their love play out and impact all of this. His commitment to my Mother and the whole "for better or worse” was operating at full force and often took my breath away.
The big thing for me involved this notion of "the grace of obligation." More and more I think I understand that through meeting obligations that just come with loving others, you receive God's grace. Through all of this I had two voices going on (borrowing from Kay Toombs) - the human voice that fights against it all and screams "no, don't let this happen, this sucks, this is my worst nightmare, this is so bad, I can't bear it." Vs the spiritual voice that says "no matter what, it will be okay, God didn't make this happen, but is with all of us each moment, and will help us bear whatever occurs." This love is made evident through the multitude of caring, compassionate gestures from people you know and from people you don't know. I have been in similar situations before and I don't think you ever experience God's love as powerfully as when you are in some kind of real crisis - it strips you of all the things that normally block the receiving of God's love. In this way the crisis becomes an amazing opportunity to receive grace.
In addition, to be able to offer comfort to someone who is sick and suffering or someone who is mentally hurting and frightened allows you to be a vessel or vehicle for grace. It becomes a privilege to minister to someone who is suffering, and you know what? - I'm good at that. The verse "if you have done it to one of these, you have done it to me." Well this is what the grace of daily obligation means. It really does become an honor to respond to the needs and expectations and hurting in others. The obligation gets transformed into an opportunity that nets you unbelievable grace. To be forced to walk by faith, not sight is really wonderful in a very paradoxical way. I don't mean faith that the problems of this world will all be okay. Maybe they won't, but faith that you really are "designed for whatever the job requires" and that ultimately - everything will transcend this and be okay.