God, I need a break. Driving a leafy stretch of residential boulevard toward home, I was ruminating on the stress of office politics. I polished off my thoughts with this prayer. A week after I prayed for respite a late-for-work uninsured driver turned her unregistered car directly into the path of my new Ford Taurus. I never saw her coming.
The collision crumpled my car into a tinfoil ball and crushed my ankle. The woman who hit me suffered a concussion and left the country after her release from the hospital. Two surgeries later I sat on my living room sofa propping my plastered leg on a pillow and contemplated a year-long recovery. This was not the holiday I had in mind.
Holidays are holy days. We set aside work to commemorate an event. Holidays help us keep focus on Godís provision and purpose for our lives. In the Old Testament, these holy days provided a seasonal rhythm that helped Godís people make sense of their earthly experience. Israel remembered Godís past goodness and celebrated His present care in a series fifty two Sabbaths, twelve New Moon feasts, seven festivals and three memorials.
We have difficulty in our secular multi-culture separating from work and agreeing on what holidays to celebrate. Perhaps thatís why we have so few of them compared to the Israelites of old.
Sitting on that sofa in the middle of what used to be my work day I made some decisions about what to do with the gift of time God gave me: no daytime TV; lots of reading; more attention to family and friends I had neglected for the sake of my job. It was this last resolution that blessed me most. I was a captive audience! People I had not had time for made time for me. They called, they visited and they took me out for lunches in town and lakeside picnics. It was a peaceful time, but not just because I embraced recovery. It was because I had seen the white light.
I never saw the car that hit me. I heard the crash of metal and time stopped. My thoughts were these: I will either wake up in this world or in the next, but whichever way, I will wake up and it will be okay. I felt perfect peace.
I woke up spilled into the street on the same leafy stretch of boulevard where I had prayed for a break. I did a mental body scan (headís okay, neckís okay, backís okay, leg is broken). Then I asked myself, how much physical pain can I handle? More than I ever thought I could, it turned out. God, a good surgeon, a demanding physical therapist and personal trainer and a host family and friends got me back on my feet.
Although we no longer live in a culture that prescribes the holy days our souls crave, the vast litany of the Christian life gives us opportunities to commemorate and memorialize. Search your days for them.
Inspired by the hymn, What Wondrous Love:
He shed his heavenly light,
To disperse the gloom of night,
Now it shines with radiance bright,
In my soul.
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