Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Holy Impatience (otherwise known as the Ankle Monologues)
Last week, in a burst of courage, I emailed my doctor saying "don't you think my ankle is taking, oh, well, just a little bit too long in healing? It having been a year already?" and he emailed back "yes" and within an hour a podiatrist called me saying "could you come in for an appointment in an hour?"
(Kaiser Permanente definitely has the internal communications down pat. Thumbs up for that, KP!)
So I went in, trembling, and grateful that I hadn't had more than a minute or two to think about what might actually be wrong with my ankle. Because, well, my ankle was last year's problem - I was done learning from that mistake. Sometime last winter the physical therapist dismissed me to self-scheduled aftercare, and said it'll be slow but sure. So I filed "ankle" in the back of my brain, settled into the self-abnegating practice of Holy Patience, and simply postponed everything I wanted to do, like hiking Mt. Bald, and Mt. Tam, and Tennessee Valley, and the AIDS walk.
I'd learned a lot of spiritual lessons, of course, like grace and humility and new priorities. So many lessons, in fact, that my ankle seemed to be, by now, not much more than a collection of Ideas and Learnings, of Humblings and Challenges. The ankle had ceased to be anything much like an ankle. I no longer thought of it in terms of leaps, or turns, or waltzes, or climbs. I'd even stopped thinking of it in terms of ligaments or tendons, strength or stretch.
It took some good friends and family members to gently push me and say, basically, "you deserve to have a working ankle." I went ahead and emailed the doctor, all but assuming he would answer "You're not spiritual enough. Practice patience." So it was scary when he agreed - "yes you deserve a working ankle."
My ankle is Not Okay, and if the steroid treatment doesn't loosen scar tissue, I could need surgery. That's scary.
What's scarier is to think about how quickly I shut myself up, shut myself off, denied myself the hope of a healthy ankle, and sanctified it under the name of the virtue - Holy Patience.
Impatience is holy too. Check out some psalms. That's the virtue I need to practice today. Today I need to push, demand, stand up for myself, and stop apologizing for the air I breathe. I need to know that I am good enough to deserve healing, and that, being a paying KP member, I am entitled to a doctor's care. Maybe I'll even get brave enough to ask God for some healing, although I'll have to get over the hurdle of wanting not to take up God's precious time.
Today I invite you to take a look at whatever it is you consider a virtue... and wonder about its counterpart. Could the opposite be a virtue, too? Patience - Impatience. Humility - Pride. Diligence - Playfulness.