From Sean. 20 August, 2010.
I’ll be in Portland over the next several days and this is my last night at Harborview. As the departure date for Steve approaches there will no doubt be more video, reflections, and posts about Steve’s last two months in the hospital. A look back at this time will, I think, be good for Steve himself. He (for obvious reasons) doesn’t remember very much about those early days and weeks. We have much of it documented in photos and video, and so I imagine an even deeper integration of the story of these months will take place for him as he’s able to see the images and hear the reflections and stories from friends.
As the transition for Steve into home-life with Miche and the boys approaches, I’ve thought a great deal recently about time. Or at least about how we are always located in every given moment with a story of what has/is past, along with a constant shaping of our present based on the story we have about the future we’re living into.
We publish ourselves… as story… in time… and the responsibility (freedom, really) to write our lives as revelation and gift is with each of us. The pen is a living thing.
The first day Steve entered Harborview he was able to move a small toe… once. That was about it. He was emotionally fragile, physically broken, and all of it immersed in uncertainty. Today, many of his major muscle groups are firing–signals are getting through. He can move his legs against gravity; there is tricep strength; increased finger movement; toes are curling; urinary function has returned… in essence, Steve continues to learn to live in a very different body than he had two months ago. And more… he’s learning to live in a body that continues to change with each passing week and with each gain in strength.
The next months are going to be very hard for Steve. Physically hard. He is going to work and work to continue to maximize these physical gains… to push and teach/learn and shape his body back into a state of independence. Where this will ultimately lead is, well… going to be an adventure, and he’s geared up for it in every way. As is Michelle!
And I can’t wait to see it unfold.
But what does that have to do with time, and the story of this time?
I’ll admit to being a broken record about tragedy making things transparent, and given the irrevocably contingent and temporary nature of everybody’s place in our world, well…
… tonight as Steve and I laid in our respective hospital beds and talked into the dark about these last months, I confessed that for me the central plot in all of this has really NOT been Steve’s body… broken or recovering. The tragedy of this accident; quadriplegia; rehab; recovery, etc… the physical drama of what is happening to Steve is all, well, extraordinary no doubt, but I think actually third or fourth on my list.
First! First… Steve and Michelle’s marriage. Two as a living one. They will shy away from any praise… but their marriage is an announcement of grace in the world. I ask Michelle what gets her through each day. Love is immediately on her lips. At the scene of the accident as Steve lay on the side of the road thinking he was going to die…. love was on his lips. And you can’t separate out their marriage from their parenting. Their boys. This love is all one and the same. Unconcealed in all of their grace and suffering as an icon of generative, immeasurable love that endures for one another.
Second… the catalyst and influence of community. Your sustained, unreasonable generosity turning evil into good at each unexpected turn so far. You know who you are. With so many thousands following this story from every continent, I wonder about the influence and catalyst of your compassion; of what is made possible when the strong and weak carry each other across so many boundaries.
And third, I suppose, would be Steve’s spinal cord and all that follows.
Some may protest that God is somehow missing from my list. Impossible!
This takes me back to thoughts I’ve been having on ‘time’.
(If) the gospel is true (not as a mere ‘proposition’ but rather an encounter: the encounter) then eschatologically speaking, isn’t Christ always inviting: for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear? Mine are definitely dim… but I still can’t deny that in the transparency of this tragedy I’ve heard and seen at least the shadows of what remains through the daily contingency of it all:
Faith, hope, and love remain… and the greatest of these is not Steve’s spinal cord or insurance policy or income or housing status (even as I am in awe of the struggle these have been). It’s this if I can say it:
The body will break and no matter the severity, love outpoured from or to or with the broken, is a resurrection. And the resurrected can never truly go back. And resurrection is not, perhaps, inevitable. It requires something. For those willing to give it, with eyes to see and ears to hear.
Christos Anesti. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.