My van was older, with no airbags, so when the car pulled out in front of me on the corner of Shepherd and Main, it was the seatbelt that kept me from flying through the windshield. In the process of saving me, it caused a broken collar bone, cracked rib, bruised sternum and a lovely bruise all the way from shoulder to hip, then across to the other hip, like an upside down 7.
I remember standing in the shower, days after the accident, letting the hot water run over my aching shoulder, looking down at the dark evidence of injury and thinking to myself that it was ironic that the thing that caused me so much pain was exactly the thing that saved me.
That’s when I started noticing how many curses are also blessings. It became so common to me that I gave it a name:
Just ask someone who has experienced serious illness. If they are using healthy eyes they will have seen beautiful things that have happened in relationships, in self-discovery, in quietude and introspection that often come with the curse of disease. When I was forced to sit in my paralyzed state after being struck with Guillain Barre Syndrome, our daughter Sarah had just given birth to her first child; my first grandbaby. I was in such bad condition I felt like I could be no help to her. And yet this child was one who would be cuddled; who could sit for long stretches of time and be read to, or watch a show, or just nap, our hearts beating against each other as one, his warm baby breath pulsing in sweet audible puffs against the skin of my neck. His name is Timo, short for Timothy, and we started calling the time we nurtured each other my Timo-therapy. It was a blurse to have been sick forced to stay home an be still when Sarah, in her second year of medical school, needed my help.
It’s a blurse when you don’t make the specialty choir so your school schedule is freed up to take an art class, after which you win the Masters Award in the state art competition and go on to earn a college degree in Fine Art. It’s a burse when you are called to Hong Kong on a mission, when the only thing you prayed for in your mission assignment was that is was somewhere cold. Breaking up with that girl who played violin ( and was, you have to admit, a little odd) was a blurse because during that time you began a platonic friendship with another beautiful girl who would eventually become your wife, so you knew her as a friend before a lover. That move to Spokane was a blurse, with all that green pine beauty calling you on Saturday hikes with your little papooses strapped to your backs, even though it is thousands of miles from home.
My HOPE for today is that we examine our curses, or at least step away from them far enough to see them with clear vision. In so doing we might see the shimmer of a silver lining around them. A hint of a blessing woven into a curse. A blurse.
____________________________________________________During the season of Lent I make the personal commitment to write every day. I’ve done this for the past eight years, as a token of devotion and thanks to the Lord for giving me a brain that works (usually). I publish these writings here on my blog, unedited and splattered like wet paint, as a way to share them and to keep them for myself and for my posterity. This year I have decided to ruminate on thoughts, ideas, habits and miscellaneous personal practices I would like to put in a figurative HOPE CHEST to take with me into the rest of my life and the life beyond. Besides that, there are bits of advice I would like to tuck into the HOPE CHESTS of my kids and grandkids.