Monday, October 27, 2014

It Hurts Sometimes

As I genuflected, a pain shot through my upper thigh; it’s been that way these past few days.  Meanwhile, I’ve been doing some exercises trying to strengthen my weak arm muscles causing tennis elbow pain, and it seems a bit better.  One pain lessens, and another increases.  I guess in old age it always hurts sometimes.

When I go for my workouts Nick, my trainer, accommodates my pains and my weaknesses.  Today we’ll probably skip those squats which stretch the thigh muscles --- he’ll have to find some other way to torture me,  :-).  I pay Nick for his services, but it is worth it; I am getting stronger.  Some days though, there are pains, and some days my muscles just don’t have the strength to complete the reps required.  When that happens, and Nick can see me straining to do the last few reps, he’ll gently put his hand over mine, taking some of the weight off me, but still requiring that I bear what I can.

I guess God is like that with us.  He helps us carry our crosses sometimes, but still we must carry them.  He doesn’t make them disappear.  I think that’s an important lesson to remember, that just knowing He is there is a lightening of our load --- we are not alone, even when sometimes it just hurts.

This weekend I was asked to join the board of a non-profit which runs homes for mentally challenged adults, children in mind who grew too old to live at home, but too mentally young to live alone.  The organization ensures they live semi-independently, finding them jobs and only stepping in to help when some tasks are more than they can accomplish --- kind of like Nick helping me when the weight is too heavy some days.  Now the organization’s hundred-plus children are aging, and facing new limitations, as are their caregivers.  My experiences and contacts as a caregiver and with eldercare resources are being sought by the organization’s board of directors to develop a strategy and plans for the future they foresee.

I’ll do my homework and pray on their request, asking the Lord:  “Is it I Lord?  Is this what You’d have me do?”

I’ve dealt with this organization in the past, and its charges.  The direct caregivers the organization hires are special people; the ones they care for often grow angry with them as they try to help.  I think it’s a combination of frustration at what they can’t do, and their limited mental capacities, which they are well aware of.  I recall my brother’s words when he noticed that people perceived his mental weakness:  “I’m just a little slow,” he said, never in anger.  He was indeed a special man.  But dealing with these others who more readily grow angry is something which I am considering; if I accept this new challenge I will undoubtedly be in contact with them more often.  I’m not sure how well I will measure up to the task.

Even as those thoughts were in my mind, the priest this morning said his short homily at mass, and included these words:  “Some people who need our love will get angry at us when we give it.  We need to love them anyway.”

It hurts sometimes, when it seems we’re not appreciated, when it seems we’re not loved, or life just isn’t what we would like it to be.  Sometimes we have to bear these pains anyway, knowing God will shoulder some of them, if it is beyond our strength.  But still, He expects us to bear our part.

I have these things to think and pray on.

            - - - - - - - - - -

I was out raking leaves yesterday afternoon.  I noticed my neighbor was doing the same.  A thought came to me, and I stopped and called him over to the fence to have a chat.  “Look at that,” I said, pointing up at the large tree in the middle of his yard.  “How many bags of leaves do you think are still on that tree?”  He stared and then replied: “I don’t want to even think about it.  Do you think I should get it cut down?”  I looked aghast at him.  “No, that would be a big mistake.  You need that tree for the shade it gives your patio, for when you do your cookouts.  No, cutting it down would be a major error.”

We stared up at the tall tree for a few more moments.  “No, what I was thinking as I was raking was that you and your wife aren’t getting any younger.  Maybe it’s time for you to have some kids.  I’m thinking of maybe ten-year old and perhaps twelve-year old boys.  Now they might be some work, but I’d help you with teaching them some important things, like cutting the grass or raking leaves.  Heck, if you had them before Christmas I’d even buy them some snow shovels for presents.”   He smiled.  “No, I don’t think anything will happen before Christmas, but in six months something will,” as he announced his wife’s pregnancy.  “Well, I guess that’s a start,” I said. 

“I guess I can stand ten more years of raking ---- maybe.”

It’s funny how God talks to us, isn’t it?  The touch from a physical trainer, the words from a priest, or the neighbor across the fence.  He shows us little things to let us know He is there, always there.

Take the time to consider how He’s there for you, too ---- perhaps especially when it hurts sometimes.     

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