Friday, December 15, 2006
Playing with Fire
A few weeks ago I was asked if I thought I would be able to light an Advent Candle during one of the church services this season. Years ago, as a youth, I had lit the Christ Candle on Christmas Eve and, since the accident, didn't think I would ever be able to participate in that way again. Feeling very honored to be asked, and confident that I could do it, I immediately said yes.
Renee and I talked about getting together at the church to practice the candle lighting. I watched the process the week before and thought that I'd be able to handle it. Not wanting Renee to waste a trip to the church for me to prove to myself that I could do it I declined the practice session. However, as the day came I grew more and more nervous that it wasn't going to work. The last thing I wanted to do was fall in front of the entire congregation while attempting to light a candle.
The morning started like most Sunday mornings except that Mom and Dad were out of town so Sarah and Madeline came to pick me up for breakfast. I decided to leave the wheelchair at home, thinking that it would be easier if Sarah didn't have to deal with me, Madeline, and the wheelchair. The process of getting out of the house and keeping the cat in the house while trying to close the door was difficult to say the least. By the time we got to church I was starting to feel less confident about my walking that day. Part of that may have been mental because I didn't have the wheelchair to fall back on if I got tired of walking.
As I came in to the church I saw our Pastor who greeted me by saying "I hear we're letting you play with fire today." I promised not to set the church on fire and he laughed it off saying that the congregation could probably use the excitement. I continued on to the room where we have Sunday School feeling shakier and shakier as I approached the room and starting to regret leaving the wheelchair at home. About half way through Sunday School Sarah and I headed upstairs to scout out the area for where we would need to stand to do the readings and practice lighting the candle. When we finally sat down in a pew I was shaky, drenched in sweat, truly wishing I had not agreed to light the advent candle.
The service began and, during the first hymn, Sarah, Madeline, and I went up to the front of the church. I maneuvered the two steps up to the dias where the altar is. I did my part of the reading and then Madeline and I moved over to the candles while Sarah led the congregation in a prayer. Madeline handed me a taper and, with a look at the Pastors (who were offering silent support but were probably praying that I wouldn't light the Christmas decorations ablaze), I lit the taper on the first Advent candle and proceeded to light the second.
In the process of setting the taper down my right crutch fell off my arm. Madeline helped me get it back. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the choir director come running over from one of the side aisles to help but he turned around when he saw Madeline hand me the crutch. We turned around, maneuvered the steps again, and headed back to the pew. During the whole time I felt calm and was walking comfortably. Of course, once I was back in the pew the sweat and shakiness found it's way back.
Afterward I visited with some people in the parlor of the church. We talked a little about the accident but more about the improvements that have come in the past year. One year ago I had been laying in a hospital bed. It was my first full day in the ARC at Wishard. At that point I still couldn't move much on my own. My goals were to be able to get to a toilet and be home for Christmas. Now I'm trying to figure out how to light a candle without catching the church on fire. It's amazing how much healing one year has brought.
I'm so proud of you and your ability to get up in front of a large group of people. I have trouble doing that and I don't have any of your "excuses".
I had to hop on right now and leave you a message because I just burnt myself. I was making my Christmas candy (which boils to 310 degrees) and accidently stuck my finger in it - DON'T ASK. The pain was intense but I didn't want to ruin the candy so I thought if I just put my mind somewhere else, it would go away (I didn't stop to rinse the syrup off my pinky). The pain didn't subside, I have a blister on my hand, and it still hurts one hour later. My point is, I am sooooooo glad you have no real memory of your accident. I can not imagine what your body went through then and how much pain you have experienced since then.
I'm sure I am not alone but I must tell you, everytime I get burnt, see flames, or think of burning, I think of you. This is not to be thought of in a negative way, however. You must know what a strong and brave young man you are to have gone through your trials and to continue to come out "on top". I love you and admire you! YOU'RE THE BEST!
As another two church members who were watching last Sunday, we were really moved and very pround of you. Another milestone! You have come so far in the past year.
Phil & Liz
Sorry you haven't heard from me in awhile. As you may know, I've been very busy with our 5-week old, Caleb, but I have been reading your blog regularly. Thank you so much for sharing - what an emotional experience for all!
Love always, Minda
Healing as you know comes from within so, no matter what you look like on the outside, it's whats in your heart that matters the most.
In saying that, I know the good Lord is in your heart Jeremy so, whatever you put your mind too you will succeed.
What a year my friend, what a year...so many thanks, so many prayers answered, so many steps yet to be taken.
You never leave my thoughts and my prayers. So, Merry Christmas and a great New Year is among us!!
(Um, Lisa, I thought I'd just mention that the thermometer works better than your pinky... :p Be careful or you'll be as bad as me!)