Hot Wheels and Whac-A-Mole
There’s a Hot Wheels track on the rug under my grand piano. Sometimes in the morning darkness as I descend the stairs I hear the tiny cars clacking around. Pete the cat plays with them in a different way from 6 year old Alex. The track was set up in August and not put away until recently - unusual for me, Miss “A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place.” But I left it there for a while to remind me that life isn’t always orderly, neat or grand.
Pain is all around me. A fellow blogger’s going through the grief and residual pain of an almost-adoption. Another friend learned she has stage 4 ovarian cancer, and having navigated the shock and disbelief she now leans on the prayers of friends and loved ones as she goes through chemo. Yet another has struggled with the difficulties of foster parenting, her momma heart hurting. My spouse recently endured a painful surgical complication and is still dealing with after effects. I’m finally on the healing side of a pinched sciatica, having literally lived with a major pain in the butt for weeks.
I am no stranger to pain or the fear that it might do me in. I have not experienced anything like what each of those friends is enduring. My past pain was different than theirs. I can’t say I know how you feel. But there is something in knowing that someone who cares about you knows. The knowing is an invisible pipeline that conveys love, sympathy, reassurance, and a connection deeper than texting or social media likes and comments. And if that pipeline is bathed in prayer it is powerful indeed.
Pain can be purposeful. Great suffering can produce great writing. Writers work through the pain writing to find meaning beneath the madness. As writer Lidia Yuknavitch put it, with our words we swim to the wreckage at the bottom hoping to bring to the surface something that can help others.
Though I love to write I haven’t written much lately. Maybe it’s because most days I’m in the grand piano stage of life, where the music I play floats above the open top of the baby grand while decades old Hot Wheels cars occasionally whiz by underneath. Most days I do pretty well with the game of Health Whac-A-Mole. Arthritis, bursitis, tinnitus, carpel tunnel, tweaked knees and pinched nerves compete as top pain producers while I try to let only one of them scream the loudest.
I can’t know if my greatest suffering on earth is behind me. Having made it to senior status and retirement, most of my grief going forward will likely be from the death of a loved one or a serious illness. But I’ve learned not to grieve over past might have beens or be too fearful of what could happen. I try to live in the present, a present made all the more precious by the pain of the past and graced with petitions to the Great Physician for those who need it most right now. For I know that the same God who brought me through my suffering can bring them through theirs. And I believe that our suffering is not wasted but will one day be looked back on as the Refiner’s fire preparing us for His glory.