WONDER sees the everyday as sacred.
Living with a sense of wonder, my word for 2023, is my intention. Being open to surprises, having a sense of curiosity, and having the desire to learn is important to my spiritual practice of “being Benedictine.” Wonder sees the sacred in the ordinary and is a doorway to gratitude, but seeing with eyes of wonder is a much easier proposition when our daily life is comfortable. My sense of comfort was recently challenged.
On a cold, windy February morning, my little dog Bailey did not want to do her business outside. Fourteen degrees in Nebraska, who can blame her? Worried about potentially icy roads and getting myself to school in time, I hurriedly picked up my little dog and headed out to accompany her on a potty trip. After stepping down onto our (apparently icy) landing, my feet slipped out from underneath me. It happened so fast yet every second my body met the icy ground, pain pierced through me–first on my bottom, then as I slid to my left side hitting my elbow sharply. I felt several crunches on my arm as I continued sliding on the pavement finally stopping several feet away.
I knew immediately I had broken my arm, and later it was confirmed–a fractured ulna and a chipped elbow. The entire event was captured on our doorbell video. I watched it only one time to see if it was as I had remembered. Seeing myself fall has ruined me forever from watching America’s Funniest Home Videos again. Falls that used to crack me up (no pun intended) seem not so funny anymore.
Wonder is the doorway to gratitude.
Making meaning out of life’s experiences and practicing gratitude is foundational to my spirituality, but much of my broken arm experience (7 weeks to date) has been spent feeling like I am not being very Benedictine. I am grateful for much, but I have also been so tired, irritable, and moody. It has been more traumatic for my body, mind, and spirit than I could have imagined.
Despite my general crabbiness, I know my injury could have been worse–for that I am grateful. Thank God I hadn’t hit my head and been knocked unconscious. I am grateful that it was my left arm that was broken, and not my dominant right. After a week of wearing a splint, I was grateful to learn that the fractured pieces of my ulna had, amazingly, stayed in alignment. I would not need surgery and instead of needing a cast, I would wear a brace that I could easily remove to shower. A welcome reprieve from the confinement of a splint, there would be enough space to wiggle a pencil through to scratch my arm. (More things to be grateful for at the end of this post.)
Gratitude is an emotion that reflects our deep appreciation for what we value, what brings meaning to our lives, and what makes us feel connected to ourselves and others.Atlas of the Heart, Brene Brown
I thought my attitude of gratitude would carry me through the weeks of convalescence in front of me, but I underestimated the many conflicting emotions I would have–frustration, overwhelm, disappointment, empathy, compassion, and wonder, just to mention a few. Out of 87 identified emotions (and experiences or thoughts that can lead to emotions) in Atlas of the Heart by Brene Brown, I have felt no less than 40 of them since I fell.
Early on I had decided I would be a resilient, strong, and compliant patient. I would remain calm in the face of discomfort or pain, knowing “this too shall pass.” Spoiler alert: I have grown weary, increasingly frustrated, and borderline hysterical from the discomfort and/or pain. Betty the brace–named after my strong, steady, prayerful oblate friend, Betty–has been called many other names besides Betty (Betty, the friend, took no offense.)Continue reading “The Wonder of a Broken Arm”