When We Fall

Yesterday, I tripped and fell out by our wood shed.

I decided to mow the front lawn before John came home hoping to surprise him. It was late in the afternoon, about five-thirty. Earlier, I edited my novel, and at the peak of the afternoon I met a friend in town for coffee. My coffee ended up being a BLT sandwich that we took outside, in the shade, with people passing by.

We talked about the election and the state of the church, and the nation, and then once I’d finished my sandwich we went on a wonderful walk down the road on a trail that is wide and shaded. The valley is off to the right, which you can see if you peek through all the trees and brush. Few people walk the trail so we were able to go at our own pace and talk about the things we think matter.

She asked me about Chile, and how I ended up there, and because I really like her, I disclosed more than normal. We walked over three miles, maybe four, and ended on a happy note. She bought me lemonade at a cute little store on Main Street, because I’d left my purse in the car, and then we parted ways. I returned some library books, and picked up a few items from Safeway, and went home.

After editing my novel on the dock for another hour, I changed my clothes and donned my rubber boots, and powered up the mower. A few minutes into my mowing endeavor, I pulled to the side of the yard to get the wheelbarrow in order to dump the clippings.

I marched toward the woodshed with my new aviator glasses on, and my delightful sunhat that my friend Tricia thinks makes me look like a beekeeper, but I think makes me look like a sophisticated writer. I was wearing my rubber boots, a tank top, and the perfect pair of pajama bottoms which also serve for hard work.

It’s steep at the edge of the woodshed, and there is a hole I didn’t see. My boot caught, and I tumbled forward onto the wood floor of the shed, and collapsed into a heap on my right side.

My knee hit the wood floor and my big toe hurt something fierce, with the kind of pain that will either subside in minutes, or is broken and won’t subside for days.

There, lying on my side I let out a most painful cry, and said out loud,  “I’ve gone through too much change. I can’t handle this right now.” Tears welled up and my breathing shifted. It took me a moment to gather myself together, but I did. I pushed the damn wheelbarrow up the hill, dumped the clippings, and kept mowing the lawn. Ten minutes later, I was crying like a baby over my big toe. It throbbed like someone had hit it with a hammer.

I dropped everything and gimped inside, retrieved the icepack from the freezer and plopped down onto the couch. John called and eventually figured out why I was crying so hard and talked to me long enough that I was able to calm down.

Eventually, John finished mowing the front yard. He made salmon for dinner, along with a green salad. We sat at the breakfast nook and talked about Bible translations and ancient Hebrew.

I’m fine now, my toe still hurts, but I’m fine. I’m struck that when I fell down my first thought had nothing to do with my fall and everything to do with the many other falls and upheaval in my life, and my own soul’s recognition that it can’t take much more.

My dog died a couple weeks ago on my lap and I miss her. The manner in which she died took a huge emotional toll on all of us and apparently, I’m still recovering. I also told my new friend all about my life and about Chile and about love and loss. And then I fell by the woodshed and instinctively, my entire self crumpled at the disruption and cried out, “I can’t take any more change.”

Later, in the evening, after the sun was well behind the trees, under the light of a crescent moon, John and I took the paddle boards out and glided through the glassy water, which served as the sky’s mirror reflecting all the contours of the clouds and the subtle tones of blues and pinks from above. We talked about nothing important. We laughed and pointed out different things we thought were interesting and went along slowly, our paddles dipping in and out of the water. The quiet companionship calmed me. We went inside and I iced my toe one more time on the couch.

When we talked about my fall, John said sometimes out of the overflow of an emotional moment, the heart speaks.

He’s right.

I have gone through a lot of change. My dog’s sad death, the most recent. My body, and my heart know it, and cried out that I can’t take much more. This is all true. And in moments like these, it’s best we let our bodies adjust and settle. It’s best to let our hearts rest and heal, and give ourselves room to adjust. It’s helpful to embrace being human and recognize we are fragile.

The heart also speaks at the close of the day, as the sun sets, and the waters calm to absolute stillness. As I glided through the glassy waters, my heart let out a gentle exhale and whispered … it is well, Tina. All is well.

And that is true, too.

 

Tina

Tina

Tina Osterhouse is passionate about living deeply and authentically. Through fiction, blog posts, and creative essays, she writes about ordinary life and the way God meets us in our everyday circumstances and creatively weaves the sacred into them. She studied ministry and theology at Northwest University, most recently lived on thirty acres in Southern Chile, and finally returned to the Seattle area in June of 2015.

6 comments

  1. Thank you, Tina
    Good piece…of your heart, once again.
    Way to be.
    It takes so much courage to take the time in order to recognize what is going on.
    But I know it’s worth it.
    This is a good reminder for my own reflexions.

    1. Thank you so much for commenting.

      It takes courage and time in order to see what’s going on … indeed.

      xox

  2. Oh Tina, I identified with much of this post… thanks for the wonderful word pictures. It’s been a long time since I experienced the death of a beloved dog. Your grief is still fresh; may you feel God’s comfort. i love how you related the phone conversation with John — my David responds similarly to my tears, thank the Lord!
    blessings –
    Kathee L.

    1. Thank you! Yes, my grief is still fresh. It was very sad. And John is very kind to me. He knew just what to do.

      xox

  3. Hi Tina, I was one of John’s students at NWU. I loved reading how you two comfort each other, it’s how it should be. Your blog was so touching, I really appreciate your humility and tender hearted writing. When my 25+ year marriage ended, I spent many hours over several months on my riding lawn mower crying out to God, I was so hoping no one could hear me over the noise. I look back in amazement at how God healed me through those tough times even amongst the noise. I hope to meat you one day. May God touch you right where it hurts, bless you.

    1. A riding lawnmower is the perfect place to wail. I wish I had thought of that.

      I’m grateful you can see the comfort that John brings to me. I really appreciate that you took the time to write me. Bless you on your journey, and write again when you have the chance. xox

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