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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Peacefulness (Not) on Purpose

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

“It’s peacefulness that’s hard to come by on purpose.”

I was reading a book in bed when Kyle came into the room, looking panic-stricken. “I just read a thing on the internet about hip infection.” And I groaned out loud. Number one rule for getting a good night’s sleep. Never, ever, Google before bed.

We should pray.” My suggestion, and the very reason my husband is waiting, bedside. Our best first option, always. To pray.

The next morning we ate our breakfast and each told a story about God’s intervention overnight. The last words I’d read in my fiction story, “Trust only grows out of trusting”—and also, this line about peace.*

Peacefulness is hard to come by on purpose—which is how you know you’re in the middle of a miracle story, and it happened for Kyle like this, too. A bit of wrestling with God, and then surrender. Peace.

I think both of us hoped this next-morning-peace might mean we were off the hook, and needn’t worry about that Google-search. After all, there was my husband, appetite almost normal, and hardly a fever. Back to life, compared to the week of Thanksgiving, when he’d been flat on his back, and our family had fled, thinking for sure it was COVID. And looking back, we might have chosen the virus, given the chance.

We stayed a couple more days in the peace of blissful ignorance, Kyle regaining his strength, but admitting, too, this growing suspicion something wasn’t quite right with that recently replaced hip. We’d taken him, once, while he was still delirious with fever, to the orthopedic urgent care, but all signs at that point still looked like a case of Covid, tested too soon, and we’d gone back home to sleep and to wait. A few days later, he’s feeling better, but now has speed-dial status with the Ortho PA who is quite certain there IS reason for worry, and long story short, Google was right, and he’d need another surgery.

A lot has happened in 2020. (No kidding!) I’d written this on our photo card, a new address, and holiday greeting. Our year in review, from the perspective of November, and I remember thinking, surely December will be uneventful…

And now it’s December 4th—over a week since our stop at urgent care—“no visitors” at the hospital, and my husband is prepping for a fairly sobering surgery, while I wait at home. He sends text updates, and my phone is exploding with friends and family sending love and prayers, and we’re not alone. We’re asking for a miracle, and so far the one we’re getting is this peace-not-on-purpose. He’s got us covered.

“They’re getting me ready. Probably heading into surgery soon.” One last text, early afternoon, and the peace is there, but my heart is also heavy with the weight of knowing. The next hour or so, I take our dog and head to the woods to walk and pray. The day is mild and the sun is brilliant and Maple scampers through dry leaves, temporarily forgetting to be mopey about the absence of her favorite human—and mine, too. My fiction quote is taking on a life of its own. Peacefulness in spite of everything. I’m surrounded by God, and His trees, and the prayers of His people, and whatever happens, we’ll be okay.

I’ve prepared myself for three hours, maybe more, just in case, but it’s only been two when the doctor calls, and the news is good. So good, later we’ll wonder if it was a mistake, the surgery an unnecessary measure, and then we’ll remember the prayers. And no—we won’t call anything a mistake, when it’s a miracle we’ve asked for, and a miracle we’re given.

Kyle’s back home now, and telling me stories. About a gathering of doctors taking a look at his inflamed incision, in unison gasping, concerned conversation. Later another doctor looks at that hip, and “Oh Dear Mother of God!”—catching herself and quickly explaining, “I’m sorry. I’m Catholic.”

No. It wasn’t a mistake. It was SOMETHING. No doubt about it.

This morning my husband and I wake early. Together. We sit in the light of our newly trimmed pine—a ”get well soon” and housewarming gift from my parents. I light two candles in our evergreen wreath, and this week we light the candle of PEACE. I read from Isaiah and Matthew, and I think back to another Advent season—It’s not peace the way we think of peace. It’s the Peace of Shalom. Nothing missing. Nothing broken. Wholeness and healing. All of it connected.

We ask for healing, and we get peacefulness, too.

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

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