Where do we go from here?

I lay motionless. The pain began to fade. I thanked Our Lord that I could still wiggle my toes. It had seemed such a good idea to assist the shy ninth-grader. I had coaxed him into the bouncy air mattress machine with me. We were a few feet apart, bouncing gently, when it happened. A rambunctious child bounced at me and hit me perpendicularly in the upper leg region. In an instant, I was flat out on my back. There was an eerie silence as the air mattress became still. I lay there, eyes closed, wondering if this meant I was getting too old to be the teacher I wished to be. My reflections were cut short by a child’s piercing scream, “God please save me. I’ve killed a teacher.” As I sat up, that same child’s whispered, “Thank you God” was amazing.

We all have those moments when life events figuratively knock us to the ground. It could be facing a critical or terminal illness, death of a family member or friend, rending of that relationship one had hoped would last for eternity, loss of employment, or loss of independence. That moment of recognition of the loss of something or everything one thought defined one’s existence is a very lonely moment for the soul. There is that instant call to God. However, not everyone is handed the immediate reprieve that child received. 

The example I wish to use to reflect upon our call to arise and try again is based upon the transplant story that appeared in SELF magazine December 2015. Kayla was on dialysis. She needed a new kidney. Was a transplant in God’s plan? In a similar manner, each of us, when down on that cold ground, must patiently await then cooperate with God. We can take solace in Jesus’ words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (Jn 14:1). 

A young woman named Jennifer, who did not even know Kayla, decided to donate a kidney. Jennifer had responded to Jesus’ whisper, “Arise and go” (Jn 14:31). Jennifer was a “Doer of the Word and not just a hearer” (Jas 1:22). She lived the truth St. Augustine found. It is only by living for others (not just private worship) that one truly lives with Christ. 

Next, there was the agonizing wait to see if the tissues were a match. In the poem “Hope,” Emily Dickinson personifies hope as a bird. She says: “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul / and sings the tune without the words / and never stops — at all.” Words of the intellect are not required for the soul to communicate what is truly needed. The soul is always open to God’s answer, even an unexpected one. In the silence of one’s heart, one can hear the soul’s song to God and His answer. The song never ends because hope is eternal. Many times someone or something new enters our lives as part of God’s answer. We must trust that this new person or thing will address our need. The soul leads the heart in this. It is said that you can listen to your mind, but you have to follow your heart. 

The last hurdle for the transplant was the psychological evaluation. Jennifer’s answer regarding her reason for donating was deemed insufficient. The psychologist bluntly told her that her wish to be kind and donate to a stranger in need was not normal. Jennifer responded, “Well then I don’t want to be your version of normal.” Through prayer we need to ensure we remain in touch with God’s Will for our lives. That will not only embolden us to fight when we need to do so, but will ensure us that we are fighting to help bring God’s plan to fruition. From the letter of James, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (Jas 1:12).

Kayla now awakens each day ready to face what comes her way. This walking in the providence of God reminds me of Jesus in the Temple. This is the Child Jesus discovering and living the plan God had envisioned. 

Alice Swam says, “Courage is the fragile blossom that opens in the snow.” Depending upon the severity of the hit we have taken as well as whether God’s helpers have arrived, it may take everything we have just to stand again to take that first, tiny step. 

However, we might be God’s special assistant for another person whose suffering is even greater than ours, so we must arise. Choosing to continue to live for ourselves and to also live for others is one aspect of the responsibility we each have of walking one another home to be with God for all eternity.

Anchor columnist Helen Flavin can be contacted at biochemwz@hotmail.com.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts