Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I am thankful to be above ground and healthy.
I am thankful for second chances.
I am thankful for each of my five children and six grandchildren.
I am thankful for my three—soon to be four—son-in-laws.
I am thankful for my brothers and sister.
I am thankful for the love and care of my friends, past and present.
I am thankful for the teachers and mentors who took the time to instruct and guide me.
I am thankful for all of the beauty God packed into creation.
I am thankful for the charities that I serve.
I am thankful to be living in the most generous and charitable nation in history.
I am thankful for a life that has allowed me to travel around the world.
I am thankful for air conditioning, computers, mobile phones, and airplanes.
I am thankful for stuffed-mushrooms, fine wines, Single-Malt Scotch and bodacious cigars.
I am thankful for libraries, bookstores, and art museums.
I am thankful for living in the US, for the wisdom and courage of our nation’s Forefathers, and for the men and women of our military who defend our freedoms.
I am thankful for the entrepreneurs who made and make the US the most prosperous nation in history.
I am thankful for the love, grace, and mercy of God. +
Giving thanks reminds me that all that I am and all that I have is because of others.
Giving thanks is giving honor to whom honor is due.
Giving thanks keeps self-pity, discouragement, and melancholy at bay.
Giving thanks (up-close and personal) encourages others. “You matter. Your contribution makes a difference. I see what you have done, who you are, and am grateful.”
Giving thanks reminds me to be a good steward of gifts received.
Giving thanks motivates me to be the kind of person for whom others can be grateful.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
I wasn’t in any hurry, which, as it turns out, saved my life. When my Jeep began hydroplaning, I had actually just changed lanes, so as to allow the speeding cars behind me to pass in the outside lane.
“Slip sliddin' away …” (Paul Simon)
“This is not how I wanted to die.” I had no doubt I was going to flip over the concrete guardrail, falling out of the sky onto the hwy below. There wasn’t any sense of fear, only inevitability.
Slam, bam, “Thank you Lord!” I am bouncing back toward the other guardrail.
Seeing the pavement only 6 inches from my face, I think to myself, “This can’t be good.” I try to turn and see if there are any cars about to hit me but the pain in my back won’t let me move. Not sure what I thought I was going to do about it had there been any.
Slam! and my Jeep flips back, right side up, careening back into the center of the two lanes of the ramp headed onto 285 East.
“Let’s see. No blood. Back feels on fire but, hey, I AM ALIVE!” Upon seeing what I thought was a white t-shirt draped over the steering wheel. “O man, my clothes must have been thrown from the back of the Jeep.” I later realize that it was the deployed and deflated air bag. (Docs and EMT guys all were flabbergasted that I had no airbag wounds.)
“I’m a nurse. You are going into shock. Lie still.”
“Get me out of here!”
“You MUST remain still!”
(Sweat pouring into my eyes) “I am NOT going into shock. I need to get out of here, get back home, take a shower, and go to bed!” But I can’t move because the pain is so severe … and something was different from the pain I experienced 20 years ago when Colonel and I were walking up the broken escalator in St Petersburg, Russia, and I first discovered I had a degenerating disc.
Nurse places a blanket over me. “You need to stay warm.”
“Get this off of me. I am burning up!”
She replaces blanket, so I take it and throw it to the other side of the car where she can’t get to it. She then takes my hand and just stands there with me, telling me she isn’t going to leave until the ambulance arrives. I was later told that we waited almost 2 hours before help arrived. Thank you, ma’me.
A guy walks up: “Can I do anything?”
“Help me find my phone.” He does, and I call my son to tell him I am going to be late; my sister, who I ask to meet me at emergency room; and Cathie, because I don’t want her to worry about my tardiness with promised phone call.
Fireman with arms bigger than my legs: “I am going to get you out. Can you move?”
“Damn straight I can move. Just get me out of here and find me a ride back to my apartment. I need a shower.” But when I twist so he can maneuver me out of the door, the pain is so mind-numbing that I decide that, sure, they can take me to the hospital.
I see a small young lady dressed as a Fire … person? Girl? Woman? She sees that I am agitated and somehow knows that if she will run around to the other side of Jeep and open the door, the breeze will calm me down.
“Thank you!” And I do calm down.
Being tied down to a straight board increased the pain, so I began asking if I could raise one of my legs to relieve the pain. No one pays any attention to me.
Policeman: “Hi, I am so sorry about this but I have to cite you for driving too fast ‘under conditions.’”
“I wasn’t speeding!”
“That’s why it says ‘under circumstances.’”
“I am NOT getting into that ambulance without my backpack!” Firegirl comes running with backpack in hand, “I picked up everything I saw and stuffed it inside.”
Ambulance driver slides me in … he’s laughing at what the Policeman just told him. Evidently, I kept yelling apologies to every semi- and car that drove by. (Hey, this is Atlanta. I know what it's like to get stuck on 285 and miss your children's birthday party and your wedding anniversary while waiting for the wreck to be removed.)
“Where do you want to go? What hospital?”
“No. Where do you want to go?”
“St. Joseph’s. Now, untie one of my legs before I start ripping off all the restraints.”
He does. I then entertain him with witty quips which kept him doubled over with laughter. Wish I could remember what I said.
Not sure how long I was in emergency room before my sister Sandy showed up. Man was I grateful to see her. And then daughters Three and Four, Bethany and Rachel, arrived. Fantastic! I could feeeeel my muscles relaxing.
Woosh. Mr. Wonderful, Monte IV, comes barreling in.
Having family close caused my heart rate to slow down and my blood pressure to drop back to normal.
Reading over reports from EMT descriptions of wreck, the doctor was concerned that I probably had internal damage. After hours of x-rays and CAT scans, “all” he discovered is a compressed disc and broken back. Fractured vertebrae: L-3. Orthopedic doctor later told me that had the fracture moved only a half-inch farther I would have been crippled.
I don’t remember which of my many caretakers said it, but someone mentioned that I had to have had an angel protecting me because I should have been killed. I heard this again and again. Each time I could feel tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes. “Thank you, Lord.”
And thank you, Sis, Bethany, Rachel, Monte IV and Cathie for being there. (Daughters One and Two, Rebekah and Laura who live out of town, were texting me while I was waiting on Doctor.) Thank you for calling most every day afterward, checking up on me, taking care of Insurance (Rachel), taking me to follow up visits (Bethany) … helping me get dressed and bringing me some kickin’ wine to go with my meds (Monte IV)!
And to all of you who emailed over and over and over again, texted, and called telling me of your love and prayers, I am humbled by the caliber of my friends. Colonel, CJ, Joseph, Derek and my Brother Richard were texting me while I was in Emergency Room! (My brother Charles would have but he is fighting to hold on to a rebellious kidney after transplant surgery. Talk about helping me to keep my perspective …)
A huge shout out goes to all the staff at St Joseph’s, as well, especially to Katie Card (RN) who cared for me as if I were her father.
You who have had similar experiences, know how surreal it is … how we seem to be standing outside of our bodies watching it all take place in slow motion. I knew I was dead. After that, all the pain was durable because I knew I had been given a second chance, knew that God could have … but didn’t. Two weeks later, I am still overwhelmed with gratitude: not only to God, but for my family and friends, as well.
Thank you for Being There.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
Saturday, November 6, 2010
What would happen in your life if you began to operate primarily out of love? What would happen if you began following where your heart was leading?
What if you speak the truth (as you understand it) to your co-worker because you care for her well-being, rather than confronting her out of fear or anger? (Fear that you will appear weak if you don’t go to war, fear that you will be considered an ineffective leader, angry that she isn’t Doing It Right, etc.)
What would you experience in your relationships if, each time you felt love welling up in your heart for an individual, you followed it, without knowing exactly where it would lead? “Was thinking of you and wanted to call/write/drop by: how are you? Is there anything I can do for you? I wanted to tell you how much I love you.”
How would your experience of work change if you approached it with love? Love for serving others, love for the work itself, love for the grace of even having a job!
What if your Quest for Knowing God or for knowing whether or not there is a God was fueled by Love (Love of God, Love for Truth) rather than fear of being wrong, fear of “eternal torment,” fear of looking/sounding/acting like “them” or fear of not looking/sounding/acting like “them”?
What would happen in your relationship with your Significant Other if you permitted love to cast caution (fear) to the wind and stood before him or her with a naked soul?
“O, Monte. Be reasonable!” I am! If love is what makes the world go around, if we were created by and for love, then living in love is the most reasonable thing you can do.
My experience is that when the conversation turns to love and people start talking about being reasonable they are usually hiding or running. Such people can’t see the eye for the mote. All the beauty and meaning of life is constantly filtered out by so-called "reason."
Love is vulnerable
Love is fragile (but not weak)
Love feeeeeels: affection, empathy, fondness, care, and passion. Yes, I know. Love acts and behaves in loving ways. But ask yourself this: What would happen if you told your "loved ones" that you were behaving/acting in a certain way solely out of a commitment that was void of feelings? How do you think they would evaluate your "loving" behavior?
"I don't feel like serving you. Actually, would rather be doing something else ... anything else ... but I have to keep my commitments. Grrrrrrrrr."
Sure, we don’t always feeeeeel like keeping the laws of love (respect, kindness, believing the best, etc.) toward others. However, if feeeeelings are rarely a part of your “loving behavior,” you might want to drop back, punt, and go to the sidelines and get to work on your heart.
Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2010