October 16, 2018
Today marks day 52 since the stroke. Thanks to Bob and Mary Miller I have an electric wheelchair that I can take around the neighborhood so I can get out into the sunshine. Before all this happened, I would put on my Air Pods and take a walk and listen to books. It should come as no surprise to most of you that I’m a little ADHD. Sitting and reading has never been high on my priority list. Honestly, my parents once made me read a book for punishment when I was a teenager (besides getting spanked with a belt, that was the worst punishment ever). I can still remember the cover of that book, Twixt Twelve and Twenty by Pat Boone Even the thought of it some 40 years later still sends shivers down my spine.
The ability to download and listen to books has revolutionized my free time. This afternoon I cruised up to the park while listening to the latest book by Francis Chan, Letters to the Church. Much of what the author talks about revolves around the concept of community. Over the last 52 days, I have experienced that in a way that I could have never have imagined before. I know that I have a lot of friends and many friends from different aspects of my life. Many have shown up in the course of my impairment. I in no way want to discount anyone that falls outside of my church community, but I desire to concentrate on how much I value that community and why I feel it is important to consider being a part of one (sorry if I sound like a preacher).
Three weeks ago I was released from the hospital. We have only cooked one meal during that period. We have been overwhelmed (in a good way) by the help we’ve received. Today, one of our friends from our small group of 17 years took me shopping for new shoes. Long ago early in our marriage, I made the decision to never a shoe shop with my wife. It never made sense to me why she was gone so long. I believe I now understand. When we arrived at the store, there were already shoes set out for me to try on. We also went up and down a few aisles picking out other shoes that might fit the bill or my foot. In the end, there was only one pair of shoes that actually worked with the brace, but we walked away with the gift of two new pairs of shoes, two new pairs of socks, and new sweatpants.
As I look through pictures, look through the names on the meal train, look at the work that is accomplished around the house, it all boils down to one thing: Community. 18 years ago we walked into Mission Hills Church and met a group of people that accepted and loved us. Much of our preconceived notions of what church had to be like we’re dashed. We joined a small group of people that were in a similar situation to us. We all had junior high kids who turned in high school kids, who turned into college kids, and over time, they met and married the loves of their lives, and are now in the process of raising children. Our small community is replicated throughout our church, and worth every moment you’re willing to invest. I’m well aware that many of my friends are not Christ followers, but together we share a common bond, we are human, and all have an intrinsic desire to connect. It is worth it. Worth every moment.
In reading back all that I’ve written tonight, I’m not sure that I communicated exactly what I started out to do. The bottom line is this, we have experienced both love and care in ways that we never expected. The one thing we all have in common is a love for one another. The protagonists in this story are the people who have been willing to sacrifice their time, love and energy in ways that demonstrate Community and from that I am grateful.
Community is worth it.