During my senior year in high school, I was in a terrible skiing accident in which I collided with a tree, and broke two bones in my leg. The accident left me bed-ridden for several weeks, as my leg healed from surgery. To add insult to injury, my high school love broke up with me the week after the accident. I was literally in pieces: a fractured body, a shattered psyche, and a broken heart. In the weeks that followed, I had plenty of time to be alone with my thoughts, and to begin the long process of healing.
One of the unexpected sources of healing was a casual weeknight Bible study. A few friends who had been meeting to study scripture together moved the Bible study to my house after the accident to keep me company. Every Wednesday night, a group of friends would climb in around me on the pull-out sofa in my living room (the island I called home for several weeks until I could manage the stairs), and we’d select a scripture passage at random and talk about it together. Their companionship, and this ritual, grounded me. Instead of feeling lonely or depressed, I began to rejoice in the positives brought about by this experience.
Long after my bones healed, I continued to feel the physical effects from crashing into a tree with my entire body: constant neck and shoulder pain that contributed to daily headaches; a dull ache in the titanium rod in my leg every time it rained; difficulty walking long distances. Finally, I became sick of the internal monologue that said I was forever damaged. That’s when I decided to take up running, which opened up a new world to me and connected me more deeply with God through moving prayer. The day that my “broken” body crossed the finish line of a half marathon, I wept from the overwhelming feeling of being freed from a great burden.
In the Church, we talk a lot about the gift of healing, but what about the gift of allowing oneself to be healed? This is something that requires trusting others, loving one’s self, and listening to God. I’ve experienced a great deal of healing in the twelve years since my accident: physically, psychologically, and spiritually. Most importantly, though, I have come to understand that I am a beloved child of God. We all are. We may be broken, but God wants to restore us. We may be shattered, but God wants to make us whole.
In these last few weeks of Lent, let us remember to open ourselves up to healing. Let us look at our wounds, our imperfections, our heartaches, and see places where we can let light in. Where we can let love in. Where we can let God in.
Loving Creator, giver of life and health: Comfort and relieve your broken servants, and give your power of healing to those who minister to their needs, that all may be strengthened in their weakness and have confidence in your loving care; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen ("Prayer for the Sick," Book of Common Prayer, p. 260, modified slightly).