Friday, March 27, 2009

Hardened Heart, Not so Hard Head

On Tuesday this week, I gave myself a concussion. It was such a mindless thing. I borrowed my neighbor's bike rack, so the kids and I could go for a ride on the trail about a mile from our house. He helped me get the rack on the back of the van. Then I opened the van door to dig out the bike pump. My tires needed more air. Ten minutes later, I put the pump back in the van, reached up to close the van door, and pulled hard (I am short, the door is heavy). CLUNK. The bike rack. Right on the top of my forehead. I fell to the ground, clutched my head, and told BigBro that I needed ice and a cloth NOW.

He ran inside. Niece came running out with ice and a cloth, and the announcement that I was bleeding. Our friend was working in the basement. I told Niece, ""If I pass out, go get him out of the basement, immediately."

I didn't pass out. About 10 minutes later, the pain had slowed enough that I could stand up, go inside, get more ice, and lay on the couch. Niece brought me ibuprofen, a big glass of water, and the laptop. I looked up "head injuries," thoughts of Natasha Richardson in my head. DH, of course, is 5 hours away, on a business trip that will last until late Friday night.

About 30 minutes later, I go and look in the mirror. A huge knot. A gash, but not a gaping one. Doesn't appear that I need stitches. The pain is not horrible. I am not dizzy. I think all seems to be well. Well, as well as can be expected when you've just clunked yourself on the head with a metal bike rack.

Wednesday morning, I was awakened with extreme nausea. I've been pregnant 3 times and had numerous bouts with the flu in my life. I've never felt nausea like that. I got up. I was light-headed, a bit dizzy. But it was the Feast of the Annunciation, so I took the kids to 8:15 mass. As the mass went on, I felt worse and worse. I turned around during the Sign of Peace and saw my friend, a nurse. After mass, I filled her in on everything, and asked for her expert advice. She insisted on taking me to the ER. We found another friend to take the kids, and headed to the ER.

A few hours, some anti-nausea meds, and a CT scan later... and I am back home. Diagnosis: concussion, but no bleeding or swelling inside the brain. So, I should heal fine and be back to normal in a few days, or a few weeks. (The Dr was a bit unclear as to how long it would take). And I've found that I am definitely a little "off" these past few days... my thoughts are less coherent, and I am a little slower at everything than I usually am. But so grateful that I will heal, that there was no lasting damage, and that DH will be home tonight.


But before all this happened, all the way back to last Saturday morning, I had some disturbing revelations during centering prayer. I am used to fighting the demons in my head during centering prayer. The to-do lists. The latest conversations with DH. The millions of little thoughts and ideas that take over the quiet moments. But last Saturday, I found myself fighting the demons in my heart, instead. Emotions welled up. Anger, hardness, lack of forgiveness. I was completely surprised. I let the emotions be there, occasionally returning to my sacred word. Tears came to my eyes.

When our time was up, and Father rang the gong, I sat there, just noticing the level of emotion I'd been experiencing. I left the chapel and got back to my regular life, but the memory of the emotion, and especially of the hardness of my heart -- in specific ways, toward specific people -- stayed with me. I talked a bit about it with DH later that day. I took it to prayer on Sunday.

The "Our Father" during mass on Sunday was hard. "Forgive us our tresspasses, as we forgive others." I know that I have some forgiveness to do. I have some letting go, some turning the cheek, some loving of my enemies.

I had been thinking my Lent was going so well. I had my Lenten disciplines. I had my prayers. I had my (almost) daily masses. I was doing Lent just fine, thank you very much.

Except that I have a lot of work left to do. I am suddenly very grateful that Lent is only half over, that I still have some time to heal the hurts and find ways to offer forgiveness, to soften the hardness and make room for some personal growth. I still have time to get my heart ready for Easter.

Perhaps the Doctor was right after all... it may take a few days or a few weeks... but I will heal.

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