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“I waited patiently for the Lord;

he inclined to me and heard my cry.

He drew me up from the desolate pit,

out of the miry bog,

and set my feet on a rock,

making my footsteps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth,

a song of praise to our God.”

Psalm 40:1-3a

 

On January 6, 2017 I received the official diagnosis: I would need a total hip replacement. This news set in motion a “new song” in my life, the words and melody of which I am still learning to sing. My healing journey of the past year has led me to surprising places: profound lament over losses both expected and unexpected; heart-felt thanksgiving for skilled healers and wonderful technology; humbling vulnerability in facing the aging and limitations of my body; delightful surprises in discovering new physical expressions that bless my life; and an intimacy with God in living out the paschal mystery of life and death in “new song” ways. Some key moments in my healing journey were:

January 6:  The diagnosis told the truth of my arthritic hip. I understood that it had been fully two years since I had experienced uninterrupted training cycles for my yearly double of Grandma’s and Twin Cities marathons. But the finality of the clear statement prohibiting the impact of running hit me hard. The physical expression of running had been an essential element of my spiritual life forever. Despite the pain I was feeling, I couldn’t envision life without running.

February 12: A night of love, hugs, tears and laughter with my soul companions of Running With Friends. This is a group of incredibly deep spirit. Through the years we had achieved a level of intimacy that was refined through long run life conversations, suffering together on the hills, crossing finish lines together, grieving together through deaths and celebrating together the new life of weddings and births. I couldn’t imagine life without Running With Friends. But I was surprised and moved by their gift of the vision and inspiration of a new Fat Tire Bike. When my new Specialized Fat Boy (a “sweet ride!”) arrived I could begin to glimpse a verse of the new song.

March 9: The hip replacement surgery went well and launched me into a medical leave of humbling pain and inability, but eventually into a Sabbath space of study and spiritual growth. This was the place where the power of the Lutheran/Catholic ecumenical consensus began to be burned into my soul. I can’t imagine the blessing of our experiences with Reformation 500, The Saint John’s Bible, or our accompaniment with the Lutheran Church in Honduras without this seminal time.

March 31: Surprise! A routine annual ultrasound revealed a complete blockage in my right carotid artery, and significant advancement in my left. My healing journey was about to deepen considerably and bring me to unexpected places of vulnerability and thanksgiving. More verses of the new song.

April 27: Successful placement of a stent. New body parts, the new song continues!

As I come to this new year, I can’t envision my life without this scary, surprising spiritual journey of healing. It has been vitally important to name the losses accurately. The psalms of lament have been life giving to me in fresh ways this year. Ironically, those honest laments have been crucial in increasing my capacity for thanksgiving. I am thankful for new expressions of technology that are currently available, and the skilled teams of medical professionals that administer them with passion and sensitivity. Beneath and surrounding these procedures, I am thankful for the spiritual support of a community that carries the presence of Christ in such beautiful ways. And of course this leads me to God, the source of life and healing, death and resurrection. The “new song” is still being written and sung in all of our lives. We each have a personal expression of this life-giving melody.

 

Thanks be to God!

Peace,  Pastor Dave

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For more information about Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd please contact us at 218-525-1922.
We are located at 1325 N. 45th Ave. E. Duluth, MN  55804
 (corner of 45th Ave. E. and Colorado St.)  Map it!