|James Tissot, Jesus Healing the Woman Crippled for Eighteen Years
French, c. 1886-1894
New York, Brooklyn Museum
This image is painful for me to look at because this is how I was last year.
"He was teaching in a synagogue on the Sabbath.
And a woman was there who for eighteen years had been crippled by a spirit; she was bent over, completely incapable of standing erect.
When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said, “Woman, you are set free of your infirmity.”
He laid his hands on her, and she at once stood up straight and glorified God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant that Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, said to the crowd in reply, “There are six days when work should be done. Come on those days to be cured, not on the Sabbath day.”
The Lord said to him in reply, “Hypocrites! Does not each one of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his ass from the manger and lead it out for watering?
This daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound for eighteen years now, ought she not to have been set free on the Sabbath day from this bondage?”
When he said this, all his adversaries were humiliated; and the whole crowd rejoiced at all the splendid deeds done by him."
Thanksgiving Day 2019 is approaching and this year I have more to be thankful for than usual. Some of you may remember that the second half of 2018 was a time of extreme pain for me, for on June 30th I suffered a ruptured disk in my lower back.
For several weeks I was unable to walk except bent over double, more like a chimpanzee than a human being. The few people who saw me during those weeks were dumbfounded. Looking back on it I am amazed that I survived the dreadful pain and the terrible inability to stand.
Over the next several months there was a mostly fruitless effort to treat the problem so as to alleviate the pain a bit. Over time I was able to straighten up slightly, but would frequently experience stabs of pain so intense that they would cause me to scream, terrifying anyone I was with. Eventually, it became clear that no treatment would work and that the time for surgery had arrived.
|The Alexander Master, Jesus Curing the Crippled Woman and the Parable of the Fig Tree
From a History Bible
Dutch (Utrecht), c. 1430
The Hague, Koninklijk Bibliotheek
MS KB 78 D 38, fol. 170r
Then there were a series of delays in scheduling the surgery that tried my patience, and everyone else's. Finally, on December 12, the surgery was done.
Then followed a week in hospital and a month in residential rehab. Finally, in mid-January I was able to return home and continue healing on my own, working with physical therapists. By late March I was walking pretty well with a rollator walker. In July I began to try to walk with just a cane. I'm getting stronger, but there is still a long way to go before I can walk without any kind of support. I can get about a mile with the cane, but I tire easily and require rest stops here and there and it does hurt. The pain is lessening, however, so that is a hopeful sign. I have also returned to participating in many of the activities I was doing before the disk ruptured and have even added one or two new things!
About a week ago I was waiting for a bus on a New York street and thought how blessed I am to be able to stand upright on my own two feet, to walk again, even if slowly, and to participate in things again. I truly marvel at how far I have come in this year.
This time last year I was praying for God to guide the hands and brains of the surgeon and of those who would assist me after my surgery. I asked him to let their hands take the place of his. And he answered those prayers. So I have a great deal to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
I am also grateful to the many people who read my anguished posts on this blog and contacted me to offer their good wishes and prayers. Their kindness was very moving and helped quite a lot, as did the prayers and help of those friends and acquaintances around me. Thank you all!
(You can read about the artistic side of Thanksgiving by clicking the Thanksgiving article in the right hand column of this page. And may your Thanksgiving be as filled with gratitude as mine will be.)
© M. Duffy, 2019