By Barb Arland-Fye
Each day starts for me with Morning Prayer from Liturgy of the Hours followed by a swim, a run or a bicycle ride. The Morning Prayer ritual began a year and a half ago after I broke the tibia and fibula in my right leg and had far too much couch time.
When the leg healed sufficiently to resume walking and swimming, I continued with Morning Prayer but also reintegrated my daily talk with God into my exercise routine.
My tendency is to negotiate, even in thanksgiving! “Thank you, God, for the privilege of being able to swim and to walk, run, bicycle and lift weights. I pray that walking and running will feel more and more natural and that I’ll be able to increase my endurance and distance. But I’m grateful for what I’m able to do now.”
Oh, what God must be thinking when I pray like this! God drops some hints, to be sure, through my interactions with people I care deeply about who are enduring significant health challenges. My closest friend Marcia recently underwent surgery for non-smoker’s lung cancer. Marcia has always been physically fit and swam daily, but now her struggle to recover leaves her practically breathless. She holds fast to her faith. Her daughter, Amanda, shared on Marcia’s Caring Bridge page a comforting Scripture that Marcia asked her to read:
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
Over the weekend, I visited a fellow parishioner, John, who also is recovering at home from surgery. John and his wife, Katie, have a sense of humor that doesn’t seem to quit — no matter what challenges they face. John told a joke about waking up from surgery and telling the medical personnel, “I must have died … because I know you’re from heaven!”
The courage, perseverance and faith of people like Marcia, John and Katie and my cousin’s daughter battling leukemia provide me with perspective in my prayer life; in my walk with God, literally. I’ve thought about abandoning running because of a lingering fear of falling and breaking bones. Sometimes my feet feel clumsy. But fear subsides as I meet it head on and the run takes on its rhythm.
In some small way, maybe I’m trying to empathize with John, Katie, Marcia and my cousin’s daughter. They know that God remains beside them on this sometimes rugged journey.
Amanda has described her mother Marcia’s recovery as a marathon, not a sprint. I can’t take away Marcia’s pain or that of anyone else, but I can run the distance with them through prayer and my small acts of courage and perseverance.
A verse from a canticle in Friday Morning Prayer, Week II, comes to mind:
God is my strength; he makes my feet swift as those of hinds and enables me to go upon the heights.”
These are words that inspired me during my recovery and help me to feel more grateful as I journey with others in their recovery.