Wednesday, January 27, 2010


Sunday evening, hurrying home after an all-church retreat, I fell on the sidewalk leading to my apartment. "Fell," a mild word, does not quite capture what happened. My sleeping bag had come undone, and it slipped between my feet has I was half-running up the sidewalk in the rain. And, I might add, the dark. Dramatic, but true.

With no warning or time to brace myself, I went splat, face forward, on the cement. For an eternal 15 seconds I couldn't move. Soon I became aware of people above me. "Nancy, are you all right?" And to each other, "What should we do?" The observation ran through my mind, "So this is what it's like."

But quickly, my impulse to breathe kicked in, along with the realization that I could wiggle all my limbs. I found my glasses, surprised they were unbroken, and, with the help of my friends, slowly got up.

I felt greatly comforted by the presence of friends--Lynn, who is also a pastor of our congregation, and my neighbor Fred. Once in my apartment we assessed the damage and decided that my right hand, somewhat bloody and swollen, needed attending to.

Lynn took me to the emergency room of the local hospital. Actually, this was a first for me in all my 64 years of living. And I found it fascinating--the people, the processes, the questions, the equipment, the care. To make a long story short (a cliche I like), they x-rayed my hand, bathed and bandaged my wounds and pronounced me fine. Nothing broken. I spent the next day with my hand in a splint, swallowing Advil for the swelling, watching movies and generally taking the day off. Yesterday the optometrist re-bent my glasses and they again fit my face. The aches and pains lessen with each day.

But I keep reliving the experience. Even though minor, it's been traumatic.

I remember the feeling of helplessness as I felt myself falling, and as I lay there those brief--but long--seconds. I think of people in Haiti, trapped for days before rescue. I think of those for whom rescue never came.

I recall the comfort of having Lynn and Fred there, concerned and ready to do whatever was needed. Lynn accompanied me through the whole ER episode, and our running conversation about all that went on helped turn the crisis into adventure. Later that evening as I skyped with Hal (in Bolivia), I recall my satisfaction at his look of alarm as I held up my bandaged paw to the video camera. "Nancy! What's happened to you?!" (Why is that so satisfying?) And I think of all the people and supplies pouring into Haiti right now, of the logistical difficulties in getting the help to those who need it most. I pray that the accompaniment of caring people from around the world will be enough to make a difference.

I reflect on grace, on God's obvious protection and provision. I'm grateful. I realize again the vulnerability of life, that none of us are immune from the dangers that are part of our existence on planet earth, calamities both small and large. But God is here. And so are his people. My small personal trauma can't really be compared to what's happening in Haiti, but it's impacted me. I pray that it makes a difference in how I respond to the world around me.


  1. I'm ever so grateful that you are not only physically well but that you were cared for throughout. While reading all of your thoughtful reflections I couldn't help but smile. You refuse to submit to the normal temptations as described by Austin O'Malley: "Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food." You remain my very unique friend. Love, Mary