By Barb Arland-Fye
Friends and acquaintances see the new running shoes (how can anyone miss aqua with lime green accents?) and presume I’m burning up the pavement again. Running remains a goal.
In the meantime, the shoes provide stability and comfort for any assignment requiring more than walking up and down hallways. They provide something far less tangible, but essential: a sense of hope and of gratitude.
Depending on whose definition you’re using, I have been following doctor’s orders to not walk for exercise while my leg continues to heal from a bad break on Valentine’s Day. At the next visit with my doctor later this month I’m hoping to negotiate walking terms with him.
Seriously, I have been thanking God every day for being able to once again walk on my own two feet — no crutches, boot or cane. The body’s ability to heal bones truly is a miracle, a gift from God. But God has also placed gifted people in my life to assist with the healing and return to full mobility — the surgeon, physical therapist, family, friends and co-workers at diocesan headquarters.
God has also guided me to appreciate what is doable right now: walking short distances, swimming, riding a stationary bicycle, lifting weights, physical therapy and driving a car, among other things.
This past weekend I watched a feature story on the 10 p.m. news about people who’d suffered spinal cord injuries and were participating in sports such as adaptive bicycling and water skiing.
Two of the participants, men who looked to be in their 30s, expressed such a positive attitude. One man talked about how after his accident it would have been easy to give in to despair. He didn’t identify hope, but demonstrated it through his actions. Both men enjoy life to the fullest by adapting to their unique situations. What an inspiration!
At a weekend event I ran into a friend undergoing treatment for cancer. She exudes enthusiasm, reveling in being able to be outdoors on a sunny day. She negotiates her illness-induced limitations so that she can make the most of life in the present moment. Hope sustains her, nourished through prayer, Scripture, Mass and the love of family and friends.
As one of the three theological virtues, “Hope is the ‘sure and steadfast anchor of the soul … that enters … where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1820) We nourish hope through our relationship with God.
I can’t help but reflect on the death of actor Robin Williams, who caused me to laugh and think, but whose sense of hope had apparently been exhausted.
I feel compelled to do what I can to help nurture hope — in others as well as myself. But hope also requires patience, “Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation,” the Catechism says. For me, patience is a work in progress … and it is progressing in baby steps. I may get my physical therapist to vouch for me!
In the meantime, I’ll keep those aqua and green running shoes laced up and ready to go.