This morning I was meditating on Luke 9.1-6 where Jesus gives instructions to his 12 disciples about going out on mission to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He tells them to take nothing for their journey — they will have to be completely dependent on those to whom they bring the Good News (and dependent ultimately on God, of course).
We are dragging A LOT of baggage along with us on this long journey. We even have one reusable grocery bag that is stuffed with other reusable grocery bags, paper towels, even toilet paper. All this stuff we are carrying does not help when one trips over uneven pavement in Manchester, England, falls sprawled on the cobblestone, and knows that something is broken.
Of course, I am the one who tripped and who broke my right elbow in two places. From that moment on, this England Term pilgrimage has taken on a different perspective, one that I said I was trying to have from the beginning: the perspective of life a day at a time, depending on God for some very specific needs (that cannot be met by a bag of paper towels and extra toilet paper!).
I spent most of last Thursday through Saturday morning at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. There were some very unpleasant things about it all — imagine the most crowded, chaotic emergency room you have ever been to (Manchester is the second largest city in England). We waited about 4 hours in such a place. Then I was placed in a purgatory of sorts, waiting another 2 hours for a bed to open up in a ward.
Unless you are a lot older than I am, I doubt you have ever seen such a ward for adults operating in the US. I was with 9 other women in a long, open room. Most of the others had dementia and were in various phases of recovery from hip surgery. I basically had to get out of bed and ask for almost anything I needed. Except tea. Tea is serious medicine apparently. The tea trolley came reliably and often, offering tea and coffee (not too many takers for that).
But there were many ways that God’s grace and strength met me in that place. The staff, despite being seriously overworked, were very kind and patient, especially to all the older, confused ladies. They were obviously doing the best they could in a very dysfunctional system.
And the fact that I was operated on so quickly and by an upper limb specialist is close to a miracle. That doctor just happened to be on the rotation for Friday morning and made room for my surgery. I am very thankful!
Some of you know that I am a veteran of orthopedic surgeries — thumb rebuild, two broken wrists. So far the elbow is the least incapacitating — and for that I am thankful also. I am actually typing this with two hands (otherwise I probably would be less wordy!).
One final grace note: I was worried yesterday by the swelling and discoloration of my right hand. I was afraid that, worst case scenario, something had been broken in my titanium plated wrist. So we talked to the hotel staff here and they just happen to have a physical therapist who has her office in this complex (what?!). So she kindly consulted with me yesterday and assured me the swelling was normal post-op bleeding, and also gave me instructions as to how to mitigate it.
How many hotels have physical therapists on site?!
So we try to take this a day at a time, depending on God to send the resources and help we need. We are thankful for how much has been provided.
The professor and students are off to Canterbury for a day trip today. This pilgrim will not make it to Canterbury (the goal of Chaucer’s pilgrims). I remain behind for today in the nicest accommodations we have had, grateful for all who have helped us get this far.
[Sorry this post is so long — making up for lost time!]