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March 04, 2011

aches and prayers

"Do you hear it?"

Ryan stands teetering on his left leg as I lower an ear toward his right knee. A group of children slow their way through the church lobby, watching me listen to Ryan bend and straighten, bend and straighten, bend and straighten his knee. 

"Seems like your kneecap is slipping over the edge of the femur."

I don't have ears to diagnose a creek from a pop. But I do know what problems are typically exposed when the knee is locked straight with the foot off the ground.

"So what should I do?"

I pause, thinking hard, not about functional anatomy. I'm usually glad, even honored to try and help. But in the past I've assumed too much, ready to talk biomechanics when friends and family are just looking for low pitched "hmmms" and common sense advice. 

I'm not sure what's behind the noisy knee. Kneecaps grind unevenly on femurs all the time for various reasons. If I had knowledge of a fool proof technique or set of instruction that would immediately relieve the misery of a dear friend, by all means, I'd eagerly share that.

But getting to the root of any matter takes time. We must prod, strain, and explore what precipitates the problem. We have to check strength and mobility at the foot, ankle, and hip. Then we scrutinize the details of basic activities like walking and squatting.
And that's just the evaluation. Correcting the issue usually takes time. It's an investment, never without effort, rarely a simple matter of "in" versus "out," crack, clunk, and you're all fixed. 

Oh, right. Ryan is still in front of me, waiting through my though pause with a look of expectation.

"Do you want to take a few minutes to look at the details?

"Or maybe, hmmm, you should rest and take it easy for a few days." 

- - - - -

I don't blame anyone for not wanting to go there - with all the detailed investigation. I'm pretty sure that I've done this in my prayer life. I'd like simple clarity on an issue. Some specific instructions or divine intervention would be nice.

Or would it? It just seems so...improbable...that the full complexity of any life issue can be holistically addressed by a simple, pain free granting. How are we to be reformed by quick answers and miraculous fixes? I'm not saying God can't, or that we shouldn't bring our concerns before him. Who am I to tell anyone how to pray? But it does seem that a shift in emphasis is in order.

Ugh. Who has time for all the self examination, the seeking, the deliberate waiting and watching as things unfold? Who wants all the prodding of sensitive areas when a knee brace and some ibuprofin may do the trick?

Who brings themselves still and quiet before the Lord with no agenda? Who humbly listens and prays for patience and the ability to be at peace while actually engaging the uncertainties, challenges, and pains of real living? 

I say that anyone who pulls this off can move mountains.

- - - - - - 

1 comment:

Sam Van Eman said...

Just thinking about this today, Bob.

I don't know if it was intentional, but you've provided a very nice fit here with the Lenten themes of suffering and waiting.

Thanks for the encouragement.