It’s February 11 again, and that means that I’ve been thinking about Lourdes all day (see Lourdes post). The experience was so unforgettable that much of my time there vividly stands out in my mind even though it will be 20 years this August. The ripple effect of the spiritual healing I received in Lourdes continues to be felt, whether consciously or subconsciously. Having been in that holy sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes reminds me to persevere and live my life with confident hope.
Even though it’s rough going at times, life is definitely worth living. Yes there is suffering and hardship but the darkness always gives way to the light found at the end of the tunnel. I’ve been thinking about the blessing it is to be alive especially after watching recent celebrations of life such as One Life LA, the March for Life, and the Walk for Life West Coast. Every life has value, from conception to natural death. In spite of the trial of another broken arm and the limitations that come with it, I know that my life matters.
This Sunday it will be 6 weeks since I broke my left arm. On Epiphany Sunday, In the church parking lot as we were about to leave, my arm got stuck on the van door and went backwards as my chair raced forward. The blanket on my lap partly slipped on top of the switch used to drive and there was nothing that could have been done to stop it because I had the speed on max. Good thing the other side door was closed or I could have actually toppled out right onto the pavement. “I am about to break my arm,” was what flashed through my mind as it happened almost as if in slow motion. Sure enough, moments later, in the hospital, the x-ray indicated a fracture in the upper left arm. In retrospect, I could have even dislocated my shoulder – – I remember actually touching the cold metal of the van door as I was forcefully propelled inside. But thanks be to God it was limited to this.
As I waited in the emergency room with my parents, I had an inexplicable inner peace that could only come from the Holy Spirit. I didn’t freak out, become overly sad or downcast, nor did I feel that it was the worst thing that could have happened to me. The sense that everything would be okay just enveloped me. I was allowed to remain calm by the grace of God.
But this is not to say that the ordeal has been easy since the 1st day it happened. It’s been more challenging to just get up and out of bed and go about my morning routine. Sometimes I just wanted to stay in bed, thinking it would be easier. But that has its own set of problems, such as sitting up and eating without too much trouble, or the feeling of being stuck. I was just watching Netflix and listening to audiobooks until I decided to make every necessary effort to get in my chair each day. And it’s been worth it.
As I said in the beginning, life itself is worth living. And this becomes apparent when God gives you opportunities to manifest His goodness in the midst of all the trials. The fact that I can actually speak and use my voice to encourage people who are going through similar trials, is an example. Recently I learned how to use Dragon Dictate for Mac to navigate the computer by voice command in addition to merely dictate text (like I’m doing now). Besides that, I can now drive my chair with a plug-in switch in my right hand. Up until the freak accident, I drove and moved the laptop track-pad/mouse with my left hand. Because I can drive again it is easier to converse with friends and visitors. Even if I couldn’t do these things, my purpose is in being rather than in doing. There is a quiet peace and even joy that comes with suffering which I cannot explain.
In Lourdes, the Blessed and Immaculate Virgin Mary told St. Bernadette that she is not promised happiness in this life, but in the next. This does not mean that we are to be completely miserable here but that the fleeting glimmers of happiness are not guaranteed to last, and cannot be compared with the glory of eternal life that is assured to us in Christ Jesus, who is Himself the Resurrection and the Life. Praise be to His Name!
Edited to add:
2 things that stand out to me:
My dignity and value do not flow from what I can or cannot do. Just existing as a vessel through which God works, praying for others, giving God glory and praise with every breath is sufficient when you find that you physically cannot move. I reminded of how St. Bernadette spoke of her time spent in the infirmary which was quite often because her poor health. To paraphrase: “I am doing my job, I am suffering.” But like St. Bernadette we can spiritually be transported to the Grotto of Lourdes and find peace and consolation in the midst of it. I don’t know where your happy places are, readers, but I like to go to Lourdes in my mind for refreshment.
Before I broke my arm, I was getting ready to respond to a non-Catholic regarding the idea of Mary as Co- Redemptrix. He thought this title took away from the role of Jesus as sole mediator and Redeemer who is the author and cause of salvation. However, what it actually means is that the Blessed Virgin Mary was given a share in the suffering of Christ and participated in it in a way that only a mother can. Her heart was pierced through when her Son’s heart was pierced by the lance of the soldier (Luke 2:35). As I was lying in bed a week or 2 after the accident, I saw how my mom had to frequently walk from one end to the house to the other to attend to me. She was there sitting beside me and even at one point tripped over some wires in my room. I saw that she was suffering as well because I was suffering. Although I was the one with the broken arm, my mom was suffering too. To suffer with. This is exactly what Our Lady does. She did this for Jesus and she does this for us when we are suffering. She was there for St. Bernadette.
Oh yeah, there is a another thing: when I broke my arm, my chair was on max speed. Yes, I was speeding prior to the accident. Don’t speed. Prevention is better than the cure. Some sufferings can be avoided or at least mitigated. Good advice that!
Thanks for reading!