The Invisible Work of Healing

“Your ankle has been through a lot. It is healing, and healing takes time. Your ankle is not doing nothing,” said Annie, the competent, kind physician’s assistant.  

At my second post-op appointment with the surgeon, I inquired about physical therapy. Still unable to bear any weight on my ankle due to a complicated fracture and subsequent surgery, I was eager to know when I could begin exercising and strengthening my ankle. The thought of keeping it still and immobile seemed counterproductive to getting stronger.  

Annie studied my chart and responded, “Well, you are only four weeks out. It will be a while.” I pointed out that it was four weeks and five days from my surgery. Almost five weeks! 

She looked at me with what bordered on pity, “Oh, you are one of those people who are going to count it all out.”  Yes, indeed…I am counting the days…each day…every day…until I can return to walking, strength, and greater independence.  

Many of us are actively engaged in the process of healing, whether it be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Everywhere I turn, I encounter people who are recovering from various injuries, illnesses, and wounds—COVID and other viruses persist and infect, friends and family are experiencing grief from the loss of loved ones, and others are simply exhausted from the stresses of living through the past several years. Injuries and illnesses come in all shapes and forms.  

If you, like my ankle, have been through a lot, remember that healing takes time and energy, which we often underestimate. Healing has its own timeline. Even when it seems like nothing is “happening,” our bodies, minds, and spirits are working extra hard. Much healing occurs inside out. 

The conversation in the surgeon’s office was a valuable reminder that my ankle and body are laboring through the invisible work of healing. Tissues, cartilage, and bone are forming inside my leg while it remains stabilized. Special bone cells repair and remodel my bones when I sleep (fascinating!). It takes immense energy to pay attention to my every physical movement to safely maintain my balance to avoid another fall. Showering, taking care of bodily needs, and simply moving from one space to another is quite an undertaking. It is remarkable how much sleep I have required throughout the recovery process. 

So, friends, if you are healing, I offer you prayers for rest, patience, and self-kindness. Remember that you are accompanied by a Loving Presence that is helping you. The Invisible work of healing is happening.  

Remembering Loved Ones

As I age, I have a growing awareness of how we are accompanied by loved ones who have passed on into new life. This week, the Christian tradition celebrates saints- those whom we have loved and who have gone before us. All Saints Day is November 1, but many churches will celebrate on Sunday, November 6. I invite you to take a moment and give thanks for those loved ones who have died.

In that spirit, I share with you a poem I wrote on the day of my father’s memorial service in Cape May, which gave me a glimpse of how we are surrounded by a “cloud of witnesses.”

Love Lives On

Sitting on the gray gravel bulkhead

beside the harbor where generations

have hoisted sails, started boat motors, volunteered in countless ways,

we gather to honor our father

with prayers, stories, even Bruce Wilson Trivia,

reflecting on a life lived fully to the end.

He is gone.

When the ceremony concludes,

we stand to embrace

the many Cape May friends

who share intertwined relationships and memories.

Then someone points skyward.

Though there is no rain,

a rainbow appears overhead

radiating red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

Forming a glistening upside-down arc.

“It’s your father sending us a sign!” someone exclaims.

But I sense that there are many of them gathered –

beautiful, beloved souls that have passed –

creating a colorful smile that shines down on us all,

reminding us that though they are gone,

They are here.

Love lives on.