The Wolf family has been rather overwhelmed by the flu and colds the past few weeks. I suppose it’s not shocking since we do have a kid in full-time school, but it still hit us like an unexpected slap in the face. I appreciate, but admittedly take for granted, my typically healthy disposition. I rarely get sick (thank goodness, since I have a few people depending on my ability to get out of the bed in the morning), but when I do, it’s ugly. Katherine tried valiantly to be my attentive nurse, and she was very sweet, but as you can imagine, the picture of her tottering with a tray of hot soup or tea above my bed was enough to draw me out of that sick bed to get such things for myself. There were moments that such a realization made me throw a momentary, little pity party, “who cares for the caregiver when he gets sick?” I honestly don’t totally know the answer to this question, but at the very least, it’s increasingly strong encouragement to make sure I take care of myself the best I can, so that I hopefully won’t need too much care and can keep focusing on giving it.
As these things go sometimes, almost simultaneously to the flu slap I received Friday night came a “monsoon” (for LA, people) and all of our laid back, mild-weathered, “outdoor pillows”, and thin-roofed defenses were nothing against the veritable inches of rain that deluged upon us. All this to say, I began hearing the beautiful sound of rain all too clearly as it began raining inside my office, literally. As the trickle continued through the day and night, I got progressively sicker and my desire to fool with said indoor waterworks progressively decreased. By the next day, I had a trashcan that should have been full of water that was actually empty. No, it wasn’t a dream or a miracle even, the trashcan wasn’t exactly water tight. Needless to say, it smells a little like mildew around here now.
Don’t feel too sad for us though. I got to feeling mostly better after about a week, and Katherine, like clock-work, got to see what all the fun was about a few days after my sickness. Thankfully, I was feeling up to really taking care of her. Though being forced to do so is not great, the act of deep resting, letting all but necessities go by the wayside, and getting cozy while watching sick-day movies really is kind of nice, every now and then. Too bad you have to basically feel like you’re dying before you get such luxuries, but that’s life, I suppose.
As I walked James to school yesterday, I happened to notice the grass bordering the sidewalk next to our house. The sad little patch never gets watered and gets sun all day long, and honestly, I don’t really care. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that there’s going to be this lifeless area of dirt and parched grass-like material, and that’s OK because I’ve got bigger fish to fry. Truth be told, I wish I was a full-fledged, cathartic gardener, working out all my frustrations in the soil, but sadly, I can kill a plant like none other, even in California’s fool-proof growing conditions. But yesterday, to my inner delight, the patch is as green as a bad fake Christmas tree and as full of new baby grass growth as the top of a Chia pet! I couldn’t help but smile. Only in California will some mild rain over a few days absolutely rejuvenate once dry and yellowed ground to look like a hillside from the “Sound of Music”.
Also, last week, the wonderful Joni Eareckson Tada wrote us a letter (she doesn’t like email, by the way, and her lovely, typed letters are always signed by her–now what’s your excuse?) and quoted Samuel Rutherford that “grace grows best in winter”. I have never thought of it that way, but perhaps the humility of sickness and the picture of the exuberantly growing green grass made it all click. At this time of year, this specific Christmas stretch of the winter season, we are so inundated with pictures of grace that we can easily fail to see them. Winter brings endings, sickness, sometimes death even, but in the bleakness and barrenness of it, of us, the green shoots of grace spring up to the light more strikingly than ever. May it be so, and may we have eyes to see it and hearts to believe it.