working together

I was already awake when her call came. My intuitive mother voice had woken me, or was it the fear that hovers over my subconscious mind when things going even mildly wrong? I‘m trying to learn to face me fears, instead of trying to outrun them with activity in the hope they’ll never catch up. I’m practising being still long enough to remove the things that render me powerless, to tackle things headlong and release myself from fear’s grip.

For the last week Sam’s eyes have been sore and the voice in my head tells me that the GVHD is getting worse, that we won’t be able to lower the drugs. I’ve just emailed a friend rejoicing that this has been the first time ever that we haven’t had to dash back to the hospital between visits and suddenly it seems I spoke too soon.

At first I could not understand what Sam was saying, her words were muffled by her own anxiety.

“Slow down. I’m up. I’m coming.” I tell her. “Is it your eyes?”

“No it’s my hand, it’s completely numb.” I throw on jeans; rush to her room and after lathering her hand in soap and then smothering her fingers in oil we establish that the only way to get her throbbing hand back to normal is to take her to emergency and cut off her ring. She explains in the car that she slipped the ring on before the party last night. She’d never worn it on that hand before and it only felt a little tight at the time. She woke in the early hours with the loss of sensation to her hand, like pins and needles and noticed the ring squeezing her finger making it swell and throb.

In emergency, we were the only ones there but still we had to wait. I felt my desire to take control of the situation burn within me. I’m frustrated. This week I’ve had two encounters with challenging women and this morning in emergency was my third. I’m very aware of feeling powerless and I am tempted to take matters in my own hands but I am also trying to hear God’s voice, to learn the unforced rhythms of grace, to keep company with God and learn to live lightly and freely. (The Message. Matthew 11: 29 – 30). I’ve been trying all week to draw the distinctions between the women that God anointed and those who stuffed up. I want to be in the category of the former and I’m having lots of opportunities to practice. I’m not enjoying this at all.

I’ve read about Eve (Genesis 2), Sarah (Genesis 18), Rebekah (Genesis 24 & 27), Deborah (Judges 4), Ruth and Naomi (Ruth 1), Hannah (1 Samuel 1), the widow (1 Kings 17), Jezebel (1 Kings 21), Esther (Esther 2 & 4), Mary and Elizabeth (Luke 1 & 2) and Mary and Martha (John 11).

In my early morning research I’ve been trying to identify the patterns, to draw distinctions and to create theories. From my own life experiences I’m learning that things work out best when I prepare, when I listen to His voice, when I let go, when I serve, when I consider the needs of others, when I seek understanding, when I am patient and when I am still. Yet even in the knowledge of this there are things that trigger the wrong response in me causing me to take matters in my own hands, to react, to speak up, to be angry and to take control.

This morning I was angry when the lady at emergency told us to wait, that she had no ice, that there was an order for things. Brene Brown says, “Powerlessness is dangerous. For most of us, the inability to effect change is a desperate feeling.” All I wanted to do was to get that ring off Sam’s hand and there was nothing I could do. There was nothing I could do when the woman at the gym told me I needed to listen to her presentation before I asked any questions about joining, there was nothing I could do when the woman putting her baby in the car next to mine knocked the door of my car with hers then accused me of crashing into her, there was nothing I could do when the registration for the conference I wanted to attend was closed. Sometimes there is nothing we can do and in the place we are confronted with choice. Fortunately for me my morning readings have illustrated loud and clear the consequences when we choose to manipulate, conspire, or do things our way. So instead of causing a scene I thanked the lady at the window and sat down.

Sometimes things don’t fit do they?

We don’t want the circumstance we are in. We want to take control, we want to change things, we want the dainty ring to slide off easily. We want to know how much it costs to join the gym before the spiel, to convince the woman who is irate and accusing us, that it wasn’t our fault. We want life to flow seamlessly. We don’t want it to challenge us and make us uncomfortable.

When things don’t go the way I plan I feel a wall slowly rising from the pit of my belly stopping only when it is over my heart. A protective valve operates within me, it’s triggered by discomfort and the shield covers me, it changes me. I become defensive. I feel stuck. Blood rushes to my face in the same way I see the blood causing Sam’s finger to swell. I can’t think straight. Instead of kindness, gentleness and self-control all I can hear are all the reasons why I am right and why the situation is so wrong.

Once a month I meet with women who love me. We share food, we laugh, we discuss God’s word, we talk about our fears and we pray. My heart is unravelled in this place and the stone is turned to flesh. (Ezekiel 36: 28). I arrive home, undone, exhausted but free.

The nurse in emergency has no success removing the ring and decides to call the fire station instead. When we arrive there are three men ready to welcome us. One offers us tea as the others set to work with the tools. They demonstrate the ringing of the bells and I am not sure if it is routine or not but I think it is fabulous and I wish I had my Kindy class with me.

Slowly the gold is ground away so there is a crack in one side of Sam’s ring. Some of the swelling is alleviated but getting it off still involves more work. The band is not loose enough to slide off, so one of the men weaves string under the band forming a loop, then again at the other side of the break they have drilled. Together they pull until the band is stretched and able to be removed. Then when she is free they laugh and pass Sam a fireman teddy as a momentum for the visit.

Driving home I think how fortunate we are if we have people who surround us, who help us, who tenderly work with us until the things that limit us are removed from our life. I think about the power of kindness, the delight of laughter and the warmth of tea. I feel grateful that even something as beautiful as a rose gold ring became cracked and pulled out of shape so that my daughter’s hand could be free. I consider my need to be vulnerable and broken enough that God can use my life as well.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen



Filed under Life

9 responses to “cracks

  1. Clare this is a beautiful piece of writing and this “I consider my need to be vulnerable and broken enough that God can use my life as well.” I struggle with this often. Thanks for the reminder not to fight it as much

  2. Clare this is such an amazing piece. There are so many things that are beyond our control, at times beyond our own understanding. I speak in truth when I say, I feel completely helpless when things around me spin out of control. I want to alleviate the pain of those I care about, I want to shift chaotic things back into distinct order, and I want to learn to be patient with others. I know, however, this is incredibly hard to learn and practice each day. Your strength is beyond grand. Your words leap off of the page and challenge me beyond reason. It is so easy to question God, to blame him at times when bad things happen. Instead one must realize God is always with us, forever present, in every moment. Our experiences, I believe, strengthens us. I think they allow us to help others. There is such power in our voices, in our narratives.

    You are a great mom my dear. Remember in moments of helplessness there are things we do have control over. We can provide comfort always. A shoulder to cry on and words of love and encouragement speak volumes. We can simply state I am here, and will be here for you always. That sometimes is more than enough. God knows more than we do, and I truly believe there is a divine order to things. Trusting in his word, his teachings somehow make the trying times more bearable. Love & continued blessings my dear to you , Sam and your family. You are constantly in my thoughts & prayers. Sending big hugs from afar.

  3. silvia

    Beautiful, illuminating and humbling as always.
    Love the Cohen lyrics.
    Love the photo of the two “heros” leaning over Sam (and that you thought to take it at the time!!!) I can just see their faces when you two gorgeous women walked into their station… no wonder they rang the bells!!

  4. Imma

    You are truly an amazing mum Claire. Your courage to face the challenges and also vulnerability which drives you to the resources of our God is an encouragement to me. Cling to Him …

  5. Your writing is soothing as always!! Can it get any better they ask, well it seems to continually! Loved the thought about the academic writer versus the literary writer. What a indirectly beautiful compliment! I was told I was a good academic writer once (oh no!, where does that leave me, a totally useless skill, I would think, particularly as I am to write a book). Ha! Ha! As far as controlling our future…… even though it is impossible, for some unknown reason we keep trying….

  6. Thank you again, that’s all I can say, your words always touch me and help.


    • Clare Froggatt

      Hello Lynn, I am so glad my words help. It means so much to me when people leave me comments like that. Thankyou Clare

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