Beyond Words


In my opening essay, I mentioned my desire to speak from my lived experience to Janet€’s themes of beauty, hope, and healing and began last month with beauty.  This month, I would like to share a story about healing and how, through God’€™s boundless grace, I was surprised by a very deep healing at a time and in a way that I would never have imagined possible.


My story of healing involves my father.  With depression as his nearly constant companion for most of my life, my father, large in stature and quick tempered, was a man of few words.  Because he had more than he could handle just surviving day to day in the world of commercial banking, there was little left of him when he came home at night.  Quite unaware of the real challenges he faced, my sister and I, in being our mostly exuberant, silly, chatty, and noisy childhood selves, would be constantly reminded by our mother that we needed to find a way to contain ourselves because our father needed to rest.  As he frequently sought refuge in his bed and books, the back of his head became almost more familiar to me than his face.


Though my sister and I tried in various ways through the years to find and maintain a more positive connection with him, we were mostly unsuccessful.  His pattern of withdrawal persisted.  Upon his retirement, sleep became his most welcomed friend.  Though he would wake and come to the table for meals, he would soon quickly and quietly excuse himself and retreat to his room.  When the demon of dementia consumed what was left of him in his early eighties, the few words he had used were taken from him, leaving me with the jarring awareness that my hope for some semblance of a relationship with him had disappeared with his speech.


One morning, as I quickly readied myself for the heartbreaking time we would spend together at the eye doctor€’s office that day, I felt what I have come to refer to as a God nudge when I applied my hand lotion.  It was if I heard the instruction, €”Take that lotion with you!”€  Bewildered, but too consumed by the clock to engage in any further analysis, I threw the little tube in my coat pocket.


What was supposed to have been a fairly straight-forward and brief visit with the doctor turned into quite an ordeal due to an unexpected and significant delay in his schedule.  An hour into our wait, as I shifted in my seat, I became aware of the lotion in my pocket.  I felt both confused and reluctant.  In his prime, my father had been a large, intimidating figure who took his roles as authority figure and disciplinarian in our family very seriously.  If words had been few between us, any sort of nurturing physical contact was almost unheard of.  Why would I think anything could change now?


Still, compelled by the God nudge and longing, always, for any possible form of connection, I haltingly asked my father if he might like a hand massage.  At this point in my adult life I had experienced the privilege of serving as a hospice volunteer and had witnessed the calming effects that hand massage had on many patients.  Before I could even begin the process of reaching out into the air between us to frantically retrieve those words, to get that question safely back into my mouth where my frightened self was sure it belonged, my father offered me both an affirming nod and his hand as well.


In that moment, I realized that while the dementia had seemingly taken that for which I had long hoped, it had also graciously dissolved many of the other barriers that existed between us.  Just to hold my father’€™s hand in such a tender way brought a flood of emotion I simply couldn’€™t nor did I even attempt to contain.  Any concern about the time evaporated as I focused instead on feeling the warmth of his hand in mine, sensing the pulse coursing through his veins, and studying his life as it was expressed in the shape, the texture, the lines, and markings of his hands.  Soon, not just my father, but the two of us together, were joined in a place of calm connection we had never known.


From that day on, I had lotion in my pocket at all times.  It helped ease long waits in medical offices; it reduced anxiety in unfamiliar settings; it brought peace and comfort during times of transition; and most importantly, it provided many opportunities for healing between us in the sacred space I never knew existed beyond words.


“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever!  Amen.”€

Eph 3: 20-21


Questions for Reflection

~What person or situation in your life seems beyond your (and maybe even God’€™s) reach?


~How is this for you?  How might you share these feelings and fears with God?


~What about the idea of a God nudge resonates with you?


~How might you open yourself to the possibility of a God nudge in your specific circumstance?


Warm greetings!  I’€™m Tracy Mooty and the consistent thread woven through my life is soul care.  I’€™ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups.  We’€™re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every card and board game!  Janet and I first met at Colonial years ago and, thanks to her mostly gentle prodding, we’€™ve partnered to offer all sorts of programs and retreats.  She’€™s also the reason I’€™ve entered into this adventure!


c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All Rights Reserved.