Obviously, the Moana soundtrack would be great background music for this post, but it's less about that than a reflection on how far I've come. See, this past week Anja made me get on the ground to do some stretching during physio, and while I'm impressed with my ability to get on the ground without fear of being stuck there anymore, the particular quad/hip exercise she was making me do gave me flashbacks to REHAB with Alex and that cute intern who kept touching my butt. (There was a running joke about physios hugging me and touching my butt for several months, apologies to those who were not following my blog in those days.) Because I couldn't get on the floor back then, Alex and that intern transferred me onto a bank where they had a large block for me to hold on to while straightening my torso to align with my upper legs. Because this was within just a few months of my injury, my glutes were having serious trouble functioning. In fact, they'd been out of the picture for most of my REHAB stay, and it was with great excitement that Alex had discovered the flicker of activation that she had to grab and follow through to complete the range of motion in this particular exercise - hence the considerable butt touching. The exercise was excruciating for me; I remember being particularly miffed with the intern being off by at least two reps in his counting - great place for a butt touching joke (remember, I work with teenagers).
This really matters, and I want to hammer the point about how hard that was for me nearly nine years ago because Anja didn't touch me at all once she helped me safely to the floor - and she commented that she barely helped me get to the floor this week. Once I was on the yoga mat, our hour was spent with a combination of that active work and some passive stretching that really pulled my muscles deeply. I felt it. Which is another thing I won't take for granted. Because I couldn't always feel what Alex was doing when she stretched and activated muscles in the hospital. Then Anja helped me to stand up again, and my legs felt like jelly as I hobbled the five steps to my wheelchair with her assistance. Before I had a chance to be disappointed, Anja reminded me that I'd just done an intense workout on my legs, so it made sense they were tired afterwards. Anja really is an incredible physio. So much of the benefit of Alex and Anja and everyone in between is that they've noticed my successes and made sure to point them out to me when the shortcomings threaten to overshadow them.
Another moment this week for noticing how far I'd come was the local Christmas concert. My first year in Kandern, Sandra sent me by myself with a note in German asking Gundi to point me to the right seat and have Helen tell me what to do. This year, Gundi still navigated me, but I understood a simple majority of what was said and sung. I had absolutely no German language skills when I first arrived, but nearly a decade later, I found myself at the after party as the only English speaker while I spent several hours chiming in at different points to the running conversation with my friends. I told them about how they were important friends and I valued the opportunity to be there with them despite my still struggling German. They were as patient as ever and laughed at my jokes about my confidence and comprehension ratios adjusting according to how frequently they kept filling my wine glass. I was seated between Hans and Gundi who have adopted me and shown me incredible generosity while I've lived in Kandern. I never could have dreamed up a scenario where I'd have a German couple adopt me into their lives and make sure I'm included in everything despite my disability and language barrier.
Fun fact: I hadn't planned on singing in this year's concert until Gundi called me last week and said since there were no new songs this year, they'd let me join if I showed up for the last rehearsal. I'd skipped all the previous ones this term because of the extra work I'd had. What an absolute gift to be in that church again singing songs about the coming of Jesus - I couldn't wipe the grin off my face as the whole audience joined in to sing Stille Nacht with the fantastic acoustics. I also couldn't help grinning when the director came up to me afterwards to thank me (in English) for showing up; I promptly responded (in German) that it was a gift to me that they let me join last minute.
My life is wild and beautiful, and I've often commented on how unexpected so much of it has been. I've also said that I want to be open to God taking me on even more wild and beautiful adventures. So with that in mind, I ask that you'd pray with me for a new wild and beautiful adventure this week. I'd love it if I could walk again - but as always, the priority is that God is glorified.
When Moana says, "everyone has a role on this island / maybe I can roll with mine," I think about how maybe I can be just fine in the wheelchair. But obviously she leaves the island for a bigger, beautiful, important adventure. Sure I could be content with this chair - but something in me looks to the horizon and wonders how far I'll go.
If you haven't heard it lately, let me remind you, Aslan is on the move. It's winter, but Christmas is coming.