Bonny decided she had done enough Christmas shopping for today. Beneath the domed glass ceiling of the shopping mall she found a bench and sat down to rest. Her pain intensified. All she had managed to buy were two gifts, ‘How has it come to this?’
The changes had been subtle at first; aches, pains and fatigue then clumsiness and a stumble or two. At the gym she had hoped to regain strength and vigour but it made things worse. Two years later doctors gave her the vague diagnosis she still found so hard to accept.
It had meant many changes some harder to accept than others. She had wept when buying a wheelchair, but wished she had used it today. The Christmas shoppers surged on through the mall. A group of carol singers made their way to a small dais. They reminded her of the hardest change of all; she could no longer dance or sing.
It had been a shock to find the weakness was not confined to her limbs. She would choke now and then having trouble swallowing and breathing at times; now singing made all of those symptoms much worse.
Bonny was told often at church that she had a lovely voice and singing for God was what she loved best. It was how she praised Him. Even at home, cooking she’d sing the ‘wrong’ words to popular songs so she could Praise God, the boys as sulky teens would scold her.
The Carol singers were ready now; dressed in red and white choir robes they looked timeless. One small child concentrated hard as she produced delightful pure notes.
It was like seeing herself years before.
“The Cathedral?” her mother had questioned, “on Christmas Night?” the small girl before her nodded unaware of the significance.
“She said to be there an hour before” the child added. Bonny had learned not to argue, her mother was most insistent about this, reinforcing it with a slap if necessary.
“Well we’ll see about that,” this woman didn’t appreciate the achievements of her children as anything worth celebrating. She bundled Bonny into the cathedral with only minutes to spare before the service.
Bonny was led away to the vestry and robed. A forest of people rose as the organ music swelled, filling this enormous church for the processional. She gazed at the towering Christmas tree decorated with spun glass orbs and lights. It held her attention until it was her time to stand and sing. Would anyone hear?
Hundreds of people settled, the organ stopped, candles quavered. Bonny couldn’t look at faces, she chose instead to look up at a window; lit from outside it held the image of the Good Shepherd. His gentleness reached down to her, and she sang to Him. Her voice was not her own at that moment. It climbed to the heights, rebounding off carved sandstone cherubs, vaulted oak and polished marble. It swelled and surprised her with sweet clarity when it came back to her own ears.
There was no applause no accolades none expected, the service swept on: but the Good Shepherd smiled down at her and she knew she had done a good thing for God.
The following autumn the seven year old contracted Polio. Forty seven years ago Bonny had been seriously ill, but fought back, eventually recovering completely. Her mother made sure it was never spoken of again. Like many survivors Bonny had gone on to live a normal life, marry a wonderful man, have the boys, a career and serve at church. She had been blessed in so many ways.
Now the weakness caused by Polio had re-emerged, Post Polio Syndrome some called it: with God’s help she would deal with whatever came with it.
With great difficulty Bonny rose from the bench and rejoined the crowd. Making her way back to the car she knew the Good Shepherd was with her, this affliction had not come from Him.
‘We are all broken bodies in a broken world. So what if I can’t sing, so what if I can’t praise you in the same old ways… teach me new ways Lord, grow in me the Fruit your Spirit brings. I’m not finished yet.’
There was no applause no accolades none expected, the shoppers swept on: but the Good Shepherd smiled down at her and she knew she was doing her best for Him.
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