I nearly giggled in church a week ago when I got to the end of the Epistle reading. The line that amused me was “‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ (Romans 10 v15). I was certainly trying to bring good news to the congregation but I cannot claim to have beautiful feet – far from it! I have always hated my feet or anything to do with feet. I have great admiration for chiropodists or podiatrists who choose to spend their time with feet; such an important job but it would never be my choice of career.
As many of you know I had an operation on my foot in the middle of May. I now have a “re-modelled foot”, as the surgeon described it. He has removed a bunion, dealt with a dislocated toe and a fractured toe, re-shaped a fourth toe and left me with three screws, a metal plate and a piece of wire in my foot. I am sure that I will set off all the alarms at the airport now! I am amazed at the surgeon’s skill in dealing with small bones and such a complex structure so expertly. He warned me that it would be painful but I have been fortunate that I have not suffered significantly. He also warned me that full recovery would be slow (up to one year) and that I would need to be patient. Perhaps that’s the most difficult part!
My main carer through all this has, of course, been John. He guided me up and down stairs while I was on crutches, he brought food and drink to me on a tray while I sat with my foot raised, he ensured that I had plenty of books and sewing to keep me occupied and he answered the door to all the wonderful visitors that I received. On one occasion he also pushed me around an art gallery in a wheelchair but I soon realised that I was subject to his personal tastes and whims; if he didn’t like a particular painting I was swept past it at great speed regardless of my opinion or interest. He then demanded an increase in his wages as carer because of the pressure of work!
However, John does not seem to have taken the “patience” message to heart. While we were watching the World Athletics Championships recently he pointed out that the female athlete, Dina Asher-Smith, broke a bone in her foot earlier this year and had to have foot surgery. In spite of this she came 4th in the 200 metres race and won a silver medal in the women’s 4 x 100 metre relay race. John wants to know why I am not racing around the benefice at a similar rate!
Illness, infirmity and increasing age all teach us that we need to take things more slowly. It is hard to maintain the same energy levels that young fit people have. Learning to cope with changes in energy level and lifestyle is hard and takes a lot of patience. We all find it difficult to be patient when there are so many things that we want to do or achieve. Sometimes it’s a matter of being patient as we listen to someone else and are desperate to voice our own opinion. Sometimes it’s the patience to accept that we can’t change a situation no matter how much we try.
There are several wonderful sayings or truisms about patience. Here are a few that I have enjoyed reading:
“Oh Lord, give me patience and give it to me now”
“If you pray for patience the Lord will provide an abundance of opportunities for you to practise it.”
“Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
“Patience, use it before you lose it.”
But I must end with the best quotation of all about patience which is from the Bible, from the prophet Isaiah (40.v31)
“Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.”