Last week I had surgery and have been recovering. I don't like to wish my life away but if I could fast forward these two weeks of post-op pain, I would. Short of that, I have been trying to make the best of it. I have found a wonderful distraction on Netflix- Escape to the Country. The show involves showing three various types of homes to a couple or family who have decided to give up their English city/suburban life for a country/village one. I love seeing the homes that have been picked but mostly, love the filming of the different counties in England. Each show will highlight some particular feature of a specific region.
On one of the shows, they were featuring the Northumberland coast and were interviewing the family who makes smoked kippers- the quintessential full fry-up English breakfast item. The family claims that they "discovered" them and it was only through a tragedy. As the story goes, the fish were drying in the wood shed along the dock. A fire occurred overnight. By morning they wondered if anything could be salvaged, especially the fish. The flavor of the smoked herring was acceptable and thus an industry was born.
I love stories where there is a silver lining in a seemingly disastrous event. I wonder how many disasters that we as a society have gone through only to have missed the opportunities to see potential or possibilities because we focused on the loss? I wonder too how many disasters that I may have experienced and have missed or chosen to miss the opportunities to see potential, possibilities or change in my own life?
It must've been devastating on that morning in the village of Seahouse to see one's whole catch of fish, in essence, one's whole livelihood literally up in smoke. Where do you start with that type of disaster? How do you go through the rubble and even begin to see possibility?
Disaster and tragedy are part of the ongoing human condition. Look to the events in the last couple of weeks. What do you do when your house has been completely flooded and there are no salvageable parts? Is there any opportunity in a madman shooter or rental truck terrorist?
Yet I think many of us feel that we are going through disaster and tragedy when the perspective might show otherwise.
I am even thinking of the "disaster" of this post op recovery. Certainly it has been problematic and quite painful but it has given me time to be still. I am not allowed to drive, lift, or strain in any way.. And so I lie down, sit and try to get comfortable in my stillness. But I am grateful for the pain because that means that I have functioning nerve cells. I am grateful for healing medicine and I am grateful for this respite time.
Not to sound trite or offer platitudes but I really do think the beginning of finding possibility starts with gratitude: gratitude that one is alive, gratitude that one can make choices and decisions, gratitude that one is not going through the difficulty alone. Gratitude does give us a new lens on the same situation. It is through that lens that we can begin to see a different angle of our predicament. Perhaps to germinate the seed of opportunity or a growth of possibility.
At the same time as my surgery our family has been witness to the medical trials of a grand-niece baby. There have been moments of great concern about her health and her life. It was in those times that I could pray, pretty much without ceasing because I did not have any other distractions. Now I am not saying that my prayers were the things that healed this baby but the silver lining of my surgery was that I was able to have the opportunity to be like the persistent widow in Jesus story and continually lift up my family member to God. I was able to practice continual prayers and was able to add my voice to many others.
The prayers gave me purpose and focus during my pain. It gave me perspective over what I had to endure. In the big scheme of things, my "disaster" is nothing. While I was soldiering through the pain, I kept telling myself that this too would end. I had perspective when I thought of those who had truly suffered before me- slaves, prisoners of war, homeless people and was grateful that my experience was temporary.
I realized that the experience of gratitude helped me to foster endurance. I am hoping that the experience of learning to endure will aid me in future situations; if I remember how I endured in the past I can be resilient to problems in the future.
What about you? Have you gone through pain and suffering? What got you through? Has there been any opportunity in it? Even one iota? How did you discover that? In the found rubble, could you discover smoked kippers?