Tuesday, the 29th of August, in addition to being a day marked by authentic shish kabobs, was also the day I sat down to blog for the first time in almost a month. That was thirteen days after the surgery, and I was finally feeling lucid enough to put my thoughts into a decent enough order to be sensible. I also found it strangely empowering to describe some of the things I had been going through- and I know my parents sure appreciated a window into what their son was experiencing. Since speaking was so difficult, the written word was and still is by far the most comfortable way to communicate.
And the blog was well received. This was the biggest encouragement yet. It made me imagine that even if recovery went poorly (which I firmly believe will not be the case), there is still a wide range of ways in which a person can communicate – especially a preacher. So I would like to thank all of you who have been a part of that encouragement! Some time ago I wrote a blog entitled “A Kind Word.” Your kind words have done much to lessen my anxiety.
So that was the good news during week two of the recovery – my mental faculties were sufficient to the task of writing. What about reading?
After getting a couple of days of writing under my belt, on Saturday morning, September 2, my good friend Cory from church came by. For the first time since surgery, I left the house for a non-medical appointment. So where did we go? A used book store of course.
The Agoura Library has a basement, half of which is a parking garage. The other half is a used book store that is only open on Saturdays. And the bookstore has two parts. One part that is the store itself that is open to the public. The other part is just the basement of the library and is filled with stacks and stacks of books that are being processed before being sold in the store. Cory, being on good terms with his neighbor who runs the bookstore, got us into those old stacks. He helped me hobble over to the religion section, got me a stool to sit on, and there I sat. Overwhelmed.
Just getting into the bookstore had been tough. Now I was facing three bookcases, each with five shelves, each shelf holding two rows of books – mostly stacked on their sides… Ninety linear feet of books on theology, church history, biblical studies, philosophy, practical ministry… I almost fell asleep a couple of times. I ended up finding three books to buy (which Cory very kindly picked up for me). Tasker’s old Tyndale commentary on the Gospel of John – a great book and an exceptionally clean copy. And two studies of homiletics from the past twenty years.
Originally, Cory and I were going to grab coffee as well. But I was not up to that so back home it was. Back at the house, Connie, my administrative assistant from the church office, and her husband Charly were visiting and I am afraid I had no gas left in the tank. I had been on my first outing and it had won.
After a nap, I opened up Tasker on John to read his introduction to the Fourth Gospel. And I couldn’t get through it. One or two paragraphs was about my limit. While I could focus on what I was writing, following someone else’s academic writing was still beyond me. That was a bummer but not altogether unexpected. The mental demands of watching sitcoms on TV was still putting me to sleep!
So, I could write, but still couldn’t resume my reading schedule. Nonetheless it had been a good week. My brother Jim had arrived on Thursday the 31st for a three-day visit following a conference he had attended up in Monterey. We had a blast and it was great seeing the kids hanging out with their Uncle Jim. Next time we hope Julie can come too.
I also ate my first sandwich since surgery. Mark and Allison from the lacrosse world (I have coached all three of their kids), came by with chicken salad sandwiches. It took me an hour to eat that sandwich, but one small bite and one awkward swallow at a time got the job done. That was also the first time that I had eaten with anyone other than family. Mark and Allison were very gracious to excuse my sloshing water around to get the sandwich to the right side of my mouth if it strayed too far to the left. My tongue was still pretty useless on that side of my mouth. When that nerve was cut, my table manners took a huge hit.
On Sunday, Uncle Jim took the kids to church and afterwards for lunch we had some very dear old friends come over from Camarillo. Kerrie and I have known Bob and Trudy since we were little kids back in the seventies. Spending time with family and old friends is the best – especially when sweet potatoes are involved.
Jim left that evening. But first he read Psalm 30 from my Psalm book;
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever.”
What a wonderful way to close out a good week. Comparatively speaking, my first week at home had been full of fears and trauma. This past week had been so much better – certainly not perfect, but better. And for that I give thanks to God. My heart will sing and I will not be silent.
NB The picture is of me and my younger brother Jim, a Lt. Col. in the US Army.