On Eagles Wings by Michael Joncas 1979
Sung by Josh Groban
9 Because you have made the LORD your refuge,
the Most High your dwelling-place,
10 no evil shall befall you,
no scourge come near your tent.
11 For God will command the angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
Date: Wednesday August 15, 2012
Time: about 4:30 pm
Place: the office of Dr. Michel X
Dr. X: well, the ultrasound of your left carotid artery shows it is 80 to 90 percent blocked and I really don’t know how you have missed having a massive stroke. I want you in surgery tomorrow, so I am scheduling you for 9 am at ES hospital.
For a week now I’ve been trying to articulate what the events of August 15th -17th have honestly meant to me and with the greatest of difficulties I am writing now. For the last week I have responded to the news of emergency surgery and questions about it with a joke or a laugh as if it was just an everyday occurrence. It wasn’t and I know that. What I do know is for the last 5 to 6 years I have complained of several physical symptoms to a series of medical specialists and none of them correlated the symptoms with a blocked artery in my neck. In the last 5 years I have traveled extensively, had several medical procedures done, including surgeries, actively exercised and I NEVER HAD A STROKE. So what I am trying to understand is why me. What or who kept me protected.
When Dr. X came in to tell me I could go home he said “the blockage was so bad the blood flow in your left eye was reversed, you are so lucky to be alive and not incapacitated by a stroke.” I don’t believe ‘luck’ had anything to do with. I believe someone(s) was watching over me.
The hymn “On Eagles Wing” written by Michael Joncas in 1979 is based on Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40:31 and that hymn and Psalm popped into my head on Thursday morning just before surgery. Ok so you might say, it’s not so unusual for a person well versed in theology to think about a favorite hymn or a comforting piece of scripture in times of stress and maybe your right. Life is often about where you put your trust and the path your thoughts take in times of crises. But I will tell you this that when I let go of my fear and give it to that invisible, but tangible presence, I not only feel protected, I am protected. The trust I place in the Holy Spirit is not the kind of trust that says I’m going to be a millionaire, a celebrity, or live a life of ease. Those are things I might want but not need. The trust I’m talking about is trusting that what I NEED will be there, not what I want. It is also recognizing that what I think I need isn’t always what God thinks I need and that again comes down to the difference between “I want” and “I need.”
God needs me to follow the path laid out by Jesus and that is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly beside my God. That is my model for living. I must admit I don’t always follow that path. It seems I am always drifting off one side of the path or another and when I reach a fork in the road my ego is strong enough to take the wrong one. Such wanderings do make it difficult on the Holy Spirit in guiding me back to the path, the Great Divine is telling me all along the way back “if you had just gone the way I told you to this would have been a lot easier.” Problem is I’m not a good listener and I have a really poor memory. But, just as many people I do come home to the shelter of those comforting wings eventually, most often in times of trouble. Last week I came home real quick!
I don’t want you to think that simply giving into what I believe God wants will make my, or any, life easy because it won’t. In fact if I really follow the path laid out by Jesus, my life will have a heck of number of pitfalls, road blocks, crises, and just plain hard times. The thing of it is I probably won’t notice those hard times. I will see instead the joy of being a partner in God’s creation, the smiles on the faces of those who never had a friend before, and the satisfaction of knowing that something wrong has been made right. Its knowing life isn’t about me, it’s about being part of the plan, about feeling the presence and hearing a swarm of angel’s wings knowing I am just a small cog in a huge plan to bring everyone under the shelter of those wings.
I am grateful to be here to write this, I pray all of you will feel and hear your own angels as they guide you on your own path. May the grace of God go with you
Ruth Jewell, ©August 22, 2012