My last post identified that I was about to undergo major surgery and that I had a very short time to prepare for it. I was feeling extremely unwell during those last few days leading up to the surgery - I think I fainted about 3 times that week and lost a day or two in hospital. The surgery itself was done in Hamilton, about 1.5 hours from here, and I was in for about four days - the drive home from Hamilton was one of the least pleasant trips I've ever had!
I had a month of working from home as and when I could - my colleagues got used to getting email from me with very odd timestamps, because I did what I could as I had the strength to do it. Fortunately a lot of what I had to do could be done at home, and I was able to do short stints on site after a couple of weeks (with hubby playing chauffeur!). I got my final surgical clearance this week just gone and am now starting to get back into full hours at work. My stamina still isn't wonderful but I manage that as best as possible.
All of this has caused some interesting reflections. I am well aware that my body is a bit munted, and that no matter what they do surgically it will never be fully right. 20 years of living with endometriosis has taught me that. Brother Pain has been such a constant companion that it is hard to imagine life without it, and it has certainly shaped my attitude to others who are suffering. I have been learning again to pray by holding on - that there is absolutely nothing I can do to make myself worthy of God's love.
Prayer doesn't have to be words or pictures or contemplation. It can be simply hanging on to God's hand in sheer desperation when there are no words: when all you can do is hold on and scream, not even finding words to cry out for mercy. I can hold God's hand, knowing I was with God in the beginning and he was with me. I can hold on, saying nothing because there is nothing that needs saying, nothing I can say. We can hold hands. Nothing I can do can make me worthy of God's love, and even missing an Office or giving up in despair because the words are smearing on the page will make God love me less! Nothing I can do can separate me from God or take God's hand from mine - even when I can' hold on because I have no strength to do so, God does not let go of me.
One of my friends showed me this without even knowing it. A few days before I ended up in surgery, I fainted at work (for the third and most serious time). I was in a meeting and felt horrible: a whole heap of pain and I was losing the words other people were saying. One of my friends (who was sitting next to me) touched me and asked me if I was okay (apparently I was white as a sheet!) and I asked to be excused as I felt terrible. I went into my office to lie dawn for a minute to try to get myself together and felt myself falling even though I was lying down.... I woke up enough to text my friend in the meeting (we had arranged an emergency code in case I needed help at work) and he came and found me.
I remember coming to and seeing him there, sitting on the floor next to me, and I felt him holding my hand. Most of the time, my hand was limp in his - when I faint from the pain, I can still sometimes hear voices and the sense of touch is the last thing to go. I could feel his hand - I couldn't grip his, but I could feel him. When the pain came I tried to break his hand though! To finish the story, he helped me take what painkillers I could when I woke up a bit, and then waited with me when I fainted again, until I came to enough to get in the boss's car and get taken home.
When I thought about this afterwards, it became a symbol of God' love. I could do nothing. I was completely helpless. My hand was in my friend's but I couldn't hold it. He held me. God, through my friend, was holding my hand. Nothing I could do could hold on to him at that point. God held me. Even when things are really bad, God holds us. We hold hands with God, we are contained and wrapped in his love, even though we might not feel it or know it, even though we might be completely absorbed by our pain or our depression or the dark night of the soul, or.... God just is. And we are because God is. And we are wrapped and held in his love. We hold hands.