Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ash Wednesday

After our morning coffee in bed, Adrienne and I went to a local  beach so she could have her morning walk on the beach. There were several groups of people doing their morning exercise routines, some with personal trainers and bright equipment. Most walked or ran across the white sand.

I was going to read, but first I wanted to walk to the water.  After all, when would I be this close again?

Using my cane and AFOs for stability, I slowly made my way to the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.  I carefully watched where my feet went, but the sand was surprisingly firm and, once I made it to the water, flat.  Other beach walkers passed me in either direction, nodding or smiling in my as they caught my eye.

Not wanting to trip, I would quickly go back to watching my feet. Once in a while I saw a bright orange or white object in the sand.  These were sea shells, bright and shiny in the morning sun, freshly washed clean by the waves.  I picked one up, thinking, "What a great souvenir." Then I saw the it was broken, and dropped it.  A few steps later, there was another glistening shell fragment in the sand.  What made it so colorful against the  dull sand was the shiny, orange interior, exposed by the broken shell.

Like that shell, I had been broken open, exposing a bright and beautiful interior that I never guess was there.  God has taken my illness and shown me his glory and power, lifting me up and blessing me.

This time I picked it up, determined to keep it as my souvenir.

In the afternoon, my mother-in-law introduced me to a friend of hers who is recovering from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, the acute version of chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy.  GBS strikes quickly; he was in the hospital hours after the initial onset of symptoms, completely paralyzed soon after and eventually in a coma.  We spent a couple of hours talking about our symptoms, our recovery, and many other things.

Even though there was plenty of laughter, being reminded of those times stirred up anger, humiliation, frustration and fear.  My morning's elation shrank small.  I can't be grateful all the time and that nags at me.  I want to praise and praise and praise with every breath that comes out of my body, but I am not able to.

Remembering my morning at the beach, holding my broken seashell, I realized the solution was  there in my hand; turn it over to my Higher Power and trust Him to do what I can't


  1. Michael, I have to say... well, that's just the problem - I don't know quite how to put everything I want to say to you.

    I'll keep it short: I follow your blog closely and am constantly feeling proud of you, this wonderful person who I have never even met, and for some reason this particular post compelled me to write this crazy ramble. :)

    I don't know if you would class me as your "friend" but for some reason that I hope you do not think is too odd, I feel like you are a friend of mine. Hearing from you really brightens my day and it makes me sad that we don't talk very much. Something that I would love to change, of course.

    You inspire me on my bad days and make me smile on my good days. I really hope we can talk soon! Keep up your fabulous writing and your strength.

  2. Michael, I love the broken shell image. What a beautiful reflection for Ash Wednesday. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Thank you both for the comments. We made it home around 3 am, Saturday morning; I am still wiped out.

  4. Suffering is Redemptive.