Earlier this week I slipped on ice as I was leaving a client’s home. The result was damage to my knee and ankle and now I’m in a leg brace/knee immobilizer and on crutches. Besides feeling foolish (and in a lot of pain) I was aggravated that my work-week plans went down the tubes when I slid down those stairs. My immediate concern was how my clients would manage without my vigilance and presence. In fact I was convinced that some clients could not manage at all! Besides work, there were projects at home that needed my devoted attention and energies. As I was being driven to the ER, I “worried” about how this fall was going to affect our lives (husband, clients, myself). While nothing was broken, I did tear cartilage in the knee, sprained my ankle, and badly bruised the top of my foot as well as my elbow. This meant crutches, bed rest for the first four or five days, worker’s comp, doctor’s visits, physical therapy, et al ad nauseum. The first couple of days were torture: “NO calls to clients”, “no paperwork”, “stay off the leg”, “don’t come back to work till the doctor gives the orders” warned my supervisor. Yes, I was extremely frustrated despite being married to a man whose greatest pleasure these past couple of days has been to take care of me. And to top it all off, family, friends, AND clients began telling me that this was G-d telling me to slow down and rest. This was a hard pill to swallow. It was a rude awakening. I was dispensable, and even my clients were telling me to take it easy.
Once I got through the initial stages of being house bound and out of touch with work, I began to breathe. Really breathe. Deep, cleansing, calming breaths; the way I guide my clients to breath when they need to center themselves and release their anxieties and fears. I became increasingly aware of the space and sounds around me, the feel of the sheets on my skin, the gentleness of Willy’s purring as he curled up beside me on the bed, the fragrance of lavendar creams my daughter sent me, the sound of my husband humming in the kitchen as he prepared simple snacks for me, the rustling and chirping of birds roosting in the snow covered bushes outside the bedroom window. And after I began to notice, I began to reflect. Despite unwelcome accidents and unpredictable weather and major losses (and gains) and all the other life events that throw monkey wrenches into our lives, there is so much to be thankful for. I don’t mean to be “Pollyannish” about this, but even in the worst of times one can usually find something for which to be grateful.
I think of the story of Rebbitzin Eshter Jungries who when as a child during World War II was sent to the death camps in Poland along with her father. In that place of putrid death and unimaginable evil, her father, a revered rabbi, urged the young, future rebbitzin to smile whenever she could so other prisoners’ spirits would be uplifted to see a child that could still smile in the midst of such horror. Rebbitzin Jungries survived the camps, came to the States, and eventually became a world-renowned speaker and religious teacher in her own right. I had the privilege of hearing her speak just a few short years ago, and even in her old age she is vibrant and vivacious. Her energy and joy belie her age. What an inspiration.
As I sit here, banged up, bruised and sore, I find that this forced recess from the busyness I’ve created for myself has allowed me time to reflect on gratitude, priorities, blessings, family, choices we make, suffering, etc. Yes, it is difficult for many people to discover the gift of reflection when they are enveloped in poverty, disease, war, torture, oppression and suppression. But people like Rebbetzin Jungries and others remind me that when life is interrupted with something more painful, more pressing, more anything than our present preoccupations, we have the opportunity to reflect on life and death, meaning and purpose, freedom and choice. I choose to be grateful for this unexpected gift of time to reflect.