Well friends, I’m ready to turn the page. As most of you know, I have spent the past four months in the hospital and in rehab centers after the removal of my left leg below the knee. It shouldn’t have taken so long to get back, but I had some complications. But now I am happily home with a brand new leg. I am so glad.
It is hard to think when you are going through something like this. I also suffered a stroke, which made it hard to communicate for awhile. I couldn’t put words together to make sentences. I soon recovered from that and can now talk the paint off the wall. I chase people around in my wheelchair until they stop and listen.
“Behold the winter is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. The time of singing has come and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.” The Song of Solomon, 2:11-12.
“If people did not love one another, I really don’t see what use there would be in having any spring.” Victor Hugo, Les Miserables.
“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” Shakespeare, Sonnet XCVII.
Easter is a good time for reality checks. As usual, most of us look at and listen to the racket around us and conclude that we live in critical times. This is what Adam must have said to Eve as they walked away from the gates of Eden: “We are living in critical times, Eve.”
This is what Caesar was telling the Roman Senate when he reported that the Gothic hordes had crossed the Danube.
George Washington surely said to his quartermaster as they trudged through the snow at Valley Forge: “These are critical times.”
Believe me; there’s no place like home! Almost five months ago I underwent the amputation of my left leg just below the knee. Since then, after many complications including a stroke, I have been hospitalized or in rehab, where I remain. Hallelujah! Today, I’m having a few hours at home again before returning to the rehab center where I’m beginning to learn to use my brand new leg!
Thank you for all your thoughts, prayers, cards, e-mails and letters. They have encouraged me, inspired me, and caused me to laugh even on my lowest days. They have run into thousands. I wish I could have answered each one. However, on many days I could not speak, think or remember clearly.
It’s great to be home after two very recent, serious hospitalizations. One of the joys is to be able to read tons of good wishes and get well cards from you dear readers. They are great medicine at a time like this! They are like the world’s greatest multi-vitamins. Some are deeply spiritual. Many are hilariously funny. All are inspirational.
Let me give you a few examples that knocked me out of the bed with laughter and lifted my spirits. And I’ll add a few comments.
I reckon I may be partly responsible for this incredible winter weather. I have sometimes professed my enjoyment of a nice winter snow storm. To watch snow falling is, to me, a wonderful sight. It brings a calmness over my spirit like few other experiences in life. God knows this about me and in most winters provides me just enough snow here in North Carolina to keep me reasonably serene.
Rarely do we get too much. Sometimes we don’t get quite enough to suit me. In fact, on Groundhog Day I was not terribly disappointed to learn that we could expect six more weeks of winter weather. I was hoping for two or three days of snow with temperatures at about 31 degrees, safe clear roads, crackling fireplaces and toasty, warm homes. We only build fireplaces anymore here in the South for the atmosphere in our homes. So I like a little snow for atmosphere.
My story this week is set in the mid-1940s. I was a young boy at the time. Many of the men in my family were away serving in the U.S. military. How many of you are old enough to remember those years? Our mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers were holding things together here at home.
Consult your elders and see if they remember any of what I’m about to tell you. They may not know about this because, while it was not secret, it was not widely disclosed at the time.
World War II was raging at the time. As the war wore on, thousands of German and Italian prisoners of war were brought to America and placed in 700 prison camps in 43 states.
Mike Poplin knows I enjoy Cajun humor. Now and then he sends me a funny story in the distinctive accent of the bayou. He knows this will make me hungry for some Cajun cooking and will also inspire a sermonette from me.
Well, the following story came at the perfect moment for me. As you regular readers know, I have had some serious health problems during recent months and have been unable to attend church. I get a bit depressed when I can’t take my seat in my pew among my friends.
So here comes a story from Mike. Boudreaux decided he wanted a pet. So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet. After some discussion, Boudreaux finally bought a talking centipede (the 100-legged bug), which came in a little white box to use for its house. Boudreaux took the box home, found a good spot for it and decided he would start off by taking his new pet to church with him.
All religions that have staying power make prayer and meditation central to their common life. This is certainly true of the great religions in the biblical tradition: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Just read the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, and note the examples of the “Chosen People” communicating with the One who chose them. Or read the New Testament teachings of Jesus about how to pray.
Islam arose after Judaism and Christianity and is noted for its emphasis on prayer. Most devout Muslims pause to pray five times daily. They kneel and touch their foreheads to the floor as they pray. This often leads to the formation of a callus on their foreheads from praying.
Late 19th and early 20th century German playwright Frank Wedekind became quotable for one sentence. Alluding to the statement in Genesis that humankind was created in God’s own image, Wedekind wrote: “God made man in his own image and man returned the favor.” There is no doubt that lots of talk about God is the projection of human tendencies upon God.
What human being does not harbor a grievance and desire for revenge for some real or imagined action or insult?
On Nov. 30, 2016, my left leg was amputated below the knee after a nine-month effort to save it. Because of some complications, I spent 29 days recovering to get well enough to return home from the hospital. I still have some healing to do before I can get started on the process of getting ready for my new, artificial leg.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all you dear friends for your prayers, thoughts, good wishes, cards and letters. I was so swamped with letters and e-mails that it will be impossible for me to answer them all. They ran into several hundred. I know you will forgive me and understand when I finally read messages from you and offered this little prayer: “Thank you God for this friend of yours and mine who spoke to you about my great need.” I was a pretty sick puppy for a long time and I was never forgotten.