Notes from Jan

A Sacred Shove

February 24, 2016

In a world of massive and unexplainable suffering, this bit of news seems “much ado about nothing.” But I appreciate your concern for my shoulder, so here’s an update, followed by some thoughts for the Lenten season. I’m grateful for your concern, your care.

The MRI showed a partially torn rotator cuff.  At yesterday’s appointment, the doctor came prepared to talk surgery. First, he examined that which no longer dangled… my right arm.  Next, he put me through strength and mobility tests, which I passed pain free and with increased strength, no longer “profoundly weak.”  He concluded,” this is not usual.  You are doing so well.  I think this surgeon needs to sheath his sword.” He said that I was free to leave and not return unless I injured myself.

Needless to say I ran to the car as fast as I could run, which wasn’t all that fast.  Once inside, I thanked God, patted my right shoulder and said,”good job!”

And I am grateful for the use of this arm and will try to treat this body with more respect.  It has been “fearfully and wonderfully made”  and I’m not as appreciative of all it does from morning until night, working away, even while I sleep.  Amazing machine, really.

Something out of the blue, like pain, gives a nudge, a sacred shove, to take better care, to appreciate the ordinary motions of life, like lifting an arm to brush hair, or twisting a shoulder in and out of a coat sleeve. Caring becomes worship, not of this body but of the One who made me and you, then clapped and called us,”Good!”

Our Lenten group met today, continuing our reading and discussion of Joan Chittister’s The Way of the Cross.  We began talking about the fifth Station of the Cross when Simon of Cyrene is forced into helping Jesus carry his heavy cross. Joan says,”The call of the fifth station is clear for the follower of Christ:  Get involved.”

Sometimes it takes a shove, a sacred shove.   The author writes,” Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we find ourselves in one of life’s great acts whether we want to be there or not.  Then we so often discover that it is not so much what Simon did for Jesus as what Jesus did for Simon that counts.”

In the painful and challenging weeks before Jud died, I watched him take up his cross and follow Jesus.  Enduring that which seemed unendurable for as long as possible.    There were Simons around, most came out of deep love to help Jud bear the unbearable: family, friends, pastors. But there were strangers, Simons forced by profession and proximity to get involved, to help Jud bear that heavy load.  Each doing what they could, with what they had, for as long as possible.

It costs to care, to get involved.  Joan ended her chapter on the fifth Station of the Cross with these words,

“We dig a moat of church-going, civic engagements and neighborhood gates around us to the point that we never see what is on the other side of those barriers.  We keep the drawbridges of our small worlds raised and run the risk of missing the Jesus-figures who walk by looking for our help, our presence, our companionship through life.”

Matthew 5 of the Message says,” You’re blessed when you care.  At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.”

I could care more.


This story has been viewed 3 times

1 person HEARTS this story


  • Reply Becky Manseau Barnett February 24, 2016 at 2:41 pm

    No surgery! Hooray! Thank you for lowering your drawbridge for me and so many, for caring with God’s spacious heart. I am emboldened to seek to do the same!

  • Reply Wendy Lane February 24, 2016 at 9:35 pm

    Yes – what Becky said!!!

    Forgive me for asking… but I think of the “stations of the cross” as being something Catholic churches do. I’m not otherwise familiar with them. I love what you quoted the author of this book saying – so powerful and true. Your quick thoughts on the stations of the cross for all believers?

  • Reply Dale Lefever February 25, 2016 at 1:39 pm


    I treasure the “sacred shove” that got me to Boston and allowed me to share life with my “big brother.”

    Love, Dale

  • Reply Pati McKay February 26, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Just to let you know, Jan…I’ve submitted my email any number of times to get your posts, but it never seems to work. Still not getting them. : (
    So glad your shoulder is doing better! I just spent a few days in CT seeing old friends from our years there and spreading P’s ashes in special spots. <3 and Best Blessings

  • Reply Sharon Wolgemuth February 29, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Jan, the news about no shoulder surgery is huge! It can be such a rugged surgery and the rehab is long. So thankful you dodged that one. Thank you God! Much love to you Jan and thanks for sharing your heart with us.

  • Share Your Thoughts

    WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :