Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Hope (05/04/06)
TITLE: The Final Resort
By LINDA GERMAIN
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Pain shadows me every minute of the day and night and blocks memories of those times when I was young and agile. I have never asked, “Why me?” The bigger question is, “Why not me?” That settled, I have had to move on to embrace the challenge to live in spite of the assault to this suffering mass of protoplasm called a body.
Quick, purposeful movements, like running, have turned to slow methodical chores, like shuffling. Sometimes I am simply in the way, so I try to keep to the side; that includes life in general. For a few weeks I have been bedridden with stiffness and increased pain. An anonymous “friend” blessed me with this trip to a famous mineral springs.
I am thankful to be on the way, but in truth, the lumpy little road that leads to the miracle waters brings added torture to already angry muscles and joints. I bite my lip and hope we are almost there.
Oh Lord, please give me strength to finish this journey with dignity and witness.
After I am checked into the temporary living quarters, preparation for the first treatment in the pool begins. Strong, well-trained hands help with a bathing suit kind of garment that snaps on the sides. They wrap me in a thick, pre-warmed terrycloth robe and set me in a wheelchair as if I were a china doll. A kind woman with a French accent and a jolly young man who smells of mint, roll me to what I am calling my waterloo. He laughs when I share that silliness.
Madam Can-Can, as I have dubbed her, and Lenny-Mint, which suits the happy fellow, stop at the edge of the therapeutic bath and give me a few basic instructions. They promise not to drop me or to leave me alone. There is some sort of flotation device built in the swimwear. For one fleeting moment a cold chill sweeps over me. Perhaps I am expecting too much.
As they ease me into the nearly hot mineral water I sigh, “Ooh…how lovely.”
My teeth are chattering but I attempt to sing in a quiet voice. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
Madam and Lenny support me on either side. They encourage me to lie back on a little air filled pillow and just let go and float. I never want to leave this delicious place of relief. It must be what a baby feels, secure in amniotic fluid designed for his protection while he develops and grows. I pray.
Lord, I am your child. My spirit is willing, but this old flesh is weak and weary and needs rejuvenation. It is my desire to go wherever you send me. Please renew this compromised body until I see you and trade it for a better one with an eternal warranty.
I am so relaxed and calm the usual bedtime analgesics are greatly reduced. I sleep all night and have comforting dreams. Day two arrives. I can hardly wait to slip into the heavenly pool again. They remove the pillow and let me grasp a small inner tube and begin to kick my feet. I am exhilarated.
By the end of three weeks I feel like a new woman; one who is compelled to sing again, only louder.
I’m pressing on the upward way, new heights I’m gaining every day.
Sometimes my stalwart companions vocalize with me. On this, my last day, others in the natural pool join our impromptu chorus. We try to remember every song that contains the word hope.
Soft as the voice of an angel… Whispering Hope.
I am anxious to leave, though sad. I exit the wonderful caressing waters for the final time and walk away with no assistance. Bright sun peeks through green leaves to produce a natural spotlight that draws my eye to an old wood sign, hand carved and nailed to a tree. It reads:Hope Springs.
I can’t stop laughing. “Yes Lord. It’s an eternal thing.”
I raise pain free arms in joyful thanksgiving and keep going forward.
“Hope springs eternal in the human breast.” [Alexander Pope]
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