Just the other day I walked to work–about seven blocks in all–for the first time since early July. It’s amazing how we take the simple things for granted. I used to push open the door, hurry down the front steps, and be on my way with no thought at all to the process of walking. One foot in front of the other… over and over… without thinking. My mind used to be on other things: a prior conversation, the day’s work, etc. But this morning, like a few days ago, my full attention was given to putting one step in front of the other. Carefully, thoughtfully, paying attention to every movement, every knee bend, every wobble. After two blocks my leg ached; there are muscles in my leg I haven’t used for a long time. At five blocks I was thinking I had made a mistake. Irrational fears invaded my mind: What if I fall? What if I re-tear something? What if I hurt the other leg? By the time I made it to my office I was greeted with comments like, “Ditched the cane, eh?” and “Looking good, Lief!” You’d think these comments would ease my spirit; you’d think I would be positive about my feat. But I have a difficult time responding graciously. It’s been two months–two long depressing months—since I last walked without help from crutches or a cane. So I usually just mumble something like, “Yup… I’m getting there,’ while my internal conversation includes profanity.
One of the things I’ve learned through this episode is that our humanity is frail. Our lives, whether we know it or not, hang together by thin threads. Others–friends even–have had much more important threads give way. I know people who are fighting cancer, or who are helplessly waiting for a loved one to die. I’ve had friends lose jobs–their lives completely turned upside down. So who am I to complain? I’m walking, and given a few months I’ll be back to normal. All of this makes me think about Luke’s gospel and how Jesus spends his ministry engaging the humanity of the poor, the sick, and the outcast–people who had the threads of life come apart. He touches the leper, he eats with the “sinners”, and he tells the paralytic to “stand up, take your bed, and go home.” In the case of the paralytic, the text says he immediately stood up, picked up his mat, and went home. I get it… I’d go home too. Back to the normal everyday life we take for granted. Back to the place where daily life happens–a way of life you don’t really appreciate until it’s taken from you. Experiences like this help us realize that all of life is an adventure if we have eyes to see and ears to hear. Walking to work will never feel the same again.