“Sacrificing what you love during Lent is like opening fisted hands into palms outstretched; laying out palms and waiting for Jesus to walk down the center of your busy life.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent
On center court, our neighborhood tennis pro holds an older student with both arms around the waist like carrying an oversized sack of potatoes while reaching for balls in a basket behind his back. Balancing her full body weight against his chest.
His familiar stocky frame, grey pony tail and bare, tanned legs are permanently surrounded by crowds holding rackets — young, old, and in-between. But today, as I pass through the park on a walk home, his unusual stance stops me leaning against a tree, curious.
The longer I watch, the more emotion swells within my chest. Because it’s obvious, this lesson is not the usual, it’s an act of love. Her wobbly legs and an empty wheel chair on the sidelines tip me off.
He bounces each ball and she swings the racket, missing some and hitting others with gusto. A pause in the rhythm allows a care giver to pull her arms out of a puffy jacket and brush hair away from her face. When the basket is emptied of yellow balls she returns to the chair, clomping feet awkwardly into the cement and kicking balls in Rocco’s direction.
Holding a wire basket, he tells me through the chain link fence that she suffered a traumatic brain injury at eighteen from a car accident. Eighteen and on her way toward professional tennis. “She played on all the best courts in the United States,” Rocco tells me in his charming Australian accent, “and at 48 she still loves the game.”
It turns out the girl I thought I was watching is a woman. A woman who cannot speak yet communicates courage and determination with every part of her being.
Most of us are moved not by those who hit it out of the park or land each juggled ball in the perfect spot. We are inspired by the people who fail yet summon courage to keep getting back up.
We are moved by the compassion of Jesus toward our brokenness. A love that carries us when we have fallen and can’t get back up on our own. Our rock and Saviour who steadfastly whispers, “I’ve got you, keep going.”
“The season of Lent can feel like adding an extra burden onto an already heavy heart. All your good intentions to rest are mocked by all that you’ve left undone.” A Sabbath Journey for Lent
I left work undone this morning to pray with a friend; an act of trust with time I didn’t think I had left to give. Yesterday, a one hour appointment for tea with a newcomer to London took five instead. On the train back home, anxiety bullied me on the unwise use of precious time to produce.
The words Sabbath Mentor in the bio my editor wrote for Rhythms of Rest were mocking me in tandem with the train rocking over tracks from Canary Wharf back to West Kensington.
As I stand next to a tree in the middle of Holy Week, palms pressed into the pockets of my coat, I watch a man live open handed and reveal the beauty of presence over hustling for success. A woman who cannot speak or walk on her own tells me something important with her broken body.
Open hands and surrender how you think life should look and in the release, you become fully yourself.
You remember that Good Friday is coming, not to mock but to ask, “Will you trust me?”
Rest your hands and see the unseen hands of God resurrect and redeem your one big, beautiful life.
What do you need to let go of so you can finally rest?
This was so beautiful, Shelly. Thank you for this.
This was so providentially and perfectly timed. Good Friday finds our family coming alongside our Mother at 91 as her faith will soon be made sight. Having fought the good fight, she is ready to go. To God be the Glory! It’s Friday…..but Sunday is coming!
SO GOOD. Thank you.