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Unwrapping the Gift

The night gave way to a brand new day, my first morning waking up at home after five days in the hospital. I lay on the couch downstairs, a chamois coloured, feathery light duvet covering me and keeping me cosily warm. I thought of the hospital, and the routine I knew so well by now, imagining the nurse at that moment, going from patient to patient taking blood pressures and temperatures and checking IV levels. I was thankful to be wearing my own favourite nightie and not the blue hospital gown, double layered for modesty, that would get increasingly tangled as I turned during the night.

I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain on the skylight, in the large hall outside the room. I had so much to be thankful for.

My dependable workhorse of a body has been recovering rapidly this week, but I have found that I have needed to ease it into the day slowly since surgery on Monday morning. So I lay quietly, thinking, and drifting in and out of sleep for quite a while as the rain tap-tapped gently up above.

How often over the past five days, I had imagined the rooms of this house, thinking of being back here, where I belong. Like a clock whose pendulum has stopped it's rhythmic swing, it was as though the heart of the house had stopped beating when I left on Sunday night. The dishwasher still held the same full load of dishes waiting to be washed that I had loaded last weekend. Paul doesn't know how the dishwasher works and had been too distracted anyway this week. It was as if time had temporarily stood still in some ways.

Brenda slept on downstairs, and Paul upstairs, as I slowly slid myself off the couch and threw a sweater over my shoulders, slipped into my Birkenstocks and padded out into our sun porch. I creaked into a floral, cushion padded, wicker chair and drank in the view.

Although the sky was cloudy and gray, trees of every shade of green, from verdigris to viridian, nodded and swayed as the morning shower breezed through their leaves; giving them a Saturday morning scrub.

"How much can happen in a garden in just five days," I thought. The dishwasher may have been frozen in time, but the garden hadn't been. While I was gone the scarlet poppies had burst from their tightly rounded pods. I am amazed at this miracle every year. How does God do that? The peonies too, deep burgundy and creamy pink, had unfurled their petals in glorious and decadent beauty.

I thought of how rarely I enjoy this room. I am usually just "passing through."

One of the gifts that God deposited in me is stamina and energy. It is also my greatest hamartia: my tragic flaw.

I realize that a gift is given to cherish and use; to steward. I have allowed my gift to use me.

Later in the day I picked up the Henri Nouwen book I received for my birthday and which I wrote about recently, Home Tonight. Henri shared a quote that seemed so apropos:

Rabbi Levi saw a man running in the street, and asked him, "Why do you run?" He replied, "I am running after my good fortune!" Rabbi Levi tells him, "Silly man, your good fortune has been trying to chase you, but you are running too fast."

From Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest byWayne Muller, 1999, Bantam Books, New York, p.48.

Susan quoted our friend Ellen already this week, who wisely said to me, "Unwrap the gift. Let God create in you."

I am relaxing into him and allowing him to do just that.

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