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Starting Over

I am sitting in my mother’s room in the rehabilitation hospital where she is recovering from a broken hip and surgery, and relearning a lot of important stuff about sitting, standing, walking. Mom is with her physical therapist right now in the gym. Sitting here I see folks walking up and down the corridor with therapists and friends. I hear voices talking about progress, new mattresses, lunch, and all the stuff that makes up life.

These places not only seem to do miracles. They are miracles. Talent, skill, experience come together to forge new possibilities for people who have been injured. Or who are simply carrying the ever-heavier weight of the passing years. And add to talent, skill, and experience the very real, if intangible at times, gifts of kindness and of genuine care. These gifts are never paid for. They do not figure in any revision of healthcare. But they are vitally important. Kindness and care give warmth and color and life to what happens in these rooms and corridors and therapy areas. A thing as simple as a smile puts energy behind the continuing effort Mom and others here are making to get stronger, to feel better. All this makes it possible to begin again with fresh resolve and joy, even in the latter chapters of this book of life that we all are writing together, one word, one hug, one therapy session, one day at a time.

Mom has rediscovered already, in rising from this fall no one would have wished for, that the love of family is steadfast. And that the care of strangers too can make new life possible. I’m presently reading Becoming Human by Jean Vanier, the founder of L’Arche Communities. He writes this: “… healing flows from relationships — it is not something automatic. I have come to learn that embodied in this approach there is an important principle: the necessity of human commitment to the evolution of the new, the necessity of accepting constant movement as the key to our humanity and as the only road to becoming truly human.”

Something new is always coming. It is a blessing when the new is a t