As I diligently try to follow the instructor’s calls for various body movements, I am unusually quiet. I look around at the others, mostly women, and notice their obvious scars from assorted surgeries. I see zipper chest marks, back, shoulder, hip, neck, knee lines of healing. I think of my own scars and how they’re better or worse, mostly much better, I say to myself.
I often feel annoyed at the conversations that drown out our leader’s directions that can lead us toward healthy, strong, upright, slimmer, better lives. Or so I think.
Then I realize the therapy that goes on among the older people who have struggled to come to this place is buoyed by the companionship of others. People who understand failed joint replacements and leaky heart valves, children who live in faraway states or countries. I recognize the support that comes from phone calls or smiles or greetings: “You weren’t here last week. I missed you!” “How was your trip to North Carolina?” We hear reports of Joe or Margaret or Eleana who aren’t here today, but who are OK or at her cottage or volunteering upstairs in the café.
I look at the visible scars and realize God sees our beauty and knows our hearts. I am buoyed by that assurance. I know that we are meant to be in communication as one body. I think of baptism as I move in the healing waters of friendship. I acknowledge that I am in a true therapy pool and I am thankful.
Read John 5:2-9: Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth-zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk. Now that day was a sabbath.
—What do your circumstantial acquaintances give you, and what do you give to them?
—How do you see yourself as part of the body of Christ? Healing, healed, healer?
Barbara Miller serves on the churchwide executive board. She lives in Washington, Mich.
Creative Commons photo by Ken Russell. Used with permission.