Sunday, November 16, 2014

With the Wind at my Back

In 2009, when I moved to New York, I quickly decided it was time for me to learn how to skateboard. It took weeks of baby steps and slips and trips and falls. Eventually I could stand up and go forward at the same time. Then I could ride downhill and deal with acceleration. By the time September rolled around I felt confident enough to ride down one of the big hills in Central Park.
Okay, I didn't exactly ride down all of it. Or even most of it. But I went a little way up.

And then I fell. Like a doofus.

But I got back on the horse and for the next couple years my board and I were all but inseparable. I would ride it to restaurants and lean it against the table. I took it on long rides down Broadway, or along the bike trails in Manhattan, just to pass the time. I avoided moving to Brooklyn because I didn't want to ride over the bridges to get to work.

Then, in December of 2011, or thereabouts, something happened. I was riding to a friend's house, when my right knee, the one I use to kick off with, started throbbing. I had to walk the rest of the way, limping and rubbing at the connection between my upper and lower leg, just behind the kneecap. Climbing the stairs to my friend's apartment hurt even more.

It kept hurting the next day, but then the pain subsided. The problem remained intermittent for a few months, never really stopping me from doing anything important, until eventually, (I can't pin down exactly when) I started sensing a fragility to that knee. Something felt like it wanted to give way if I went riding.

So I stopped.

I rode a bicycle instead. Without the twisting motion involved in kicking off it didn't hurt me. And that was fine for a while, even though the upkeep was expensive and eventually all of the second hand bikes I could afford either broke beyond repair, rusted away, or were stolen outright. Cycling was a decent replacement, but not nearly so convenient, or even quite as satisfying.

Recently I sold one of my two boards and meant to sell my other one immediately after, but I just couldn't talk myself into it, even though as long as I avoided skating the knee seemed fine. I assumed it was just the twisting motion that had been the problem.

Until last month. Last month, seemingly out of the blue, it got worse.

I finally have insurance, which is wonderful, but even so, the process of getting surgery on my knee could have been disastrous for me financially. Not to mention, that for two years I had sacrificed skateboarding so I could continue to go to work pain free. But now that sacrifice was meaningless, because my knee was starting to show subtle signs of that same fragility either way.

I felt pretty fragile overall at this point.

Then, on October 29th, I went to a Wednesday night worship service at my church. I went without exorbitant expectations. I went to enjoy the evening and the singing and the company. For the first hour or so, I did exactly that. I prayed, I sang, I thanked God for the many good things in my life. I asked Him for a few things, none of which were related to my knee. It hadn't occurred to me to ask about that. Not really. Not until the pastor up front gave an alter call for prayers of healing.

I don't do alter calls. Not really. Not since high school anyway. I get prayer from my family, or my friends, or in Bible study, not in front of a bunch of people who are kind of emotionally hyped. I don't LIKE emotional hype. It gets under my skin. Quite frankly, as much as I love my church it's still a little weird/intense/emotional for my tastes!

But I went forward anyway. Another pastor was there and she asked me what my physical ailment was. I told her about my knee and how I was worried it might keep me from working and (only as a side note) from skateboarding.

She didn't pray for me right away. Instead she called over her father, who is a surfer. She had connected to the skateboarding part of my worries, even though I didn't want to admit how important that was to me. And her her father, probably in his 60's, is still a surfer. Still active in the way I hope to be when I reach that age, but couldn't possibly be if my knee gave out in my 30's.

They both kneeled down and each grasped on of my knees in their hands and they began to pray.

And I started weeping. Tears flowed down my cheeks and my throat tightened and I felt the way you do when you're seeing your family for the first time since something traumatic has happened. Relief and love and joy and a releasing of the sadness that you didn't even know was there until your mom puts her arms around you.

I felt a little silly, but infinitely refreshed. The pastor asked me if I felt anything in my knees. I hadn't, but she said she felt something happen. I hadn't been in pain when I went forward and I still felt fine, but above all I knew something real had happened to me. Something important.

And after a few weeks of riding again I can tell you, my knee hurt something fierce! But not in the same way. It no longer feel fragile, just wimpy. I'm out of shape! I'll have to get back into it again before I do any tricks, or bomb any hills. In the meantime though, when I stop riding I don't limp for two days afterwards. It doesn't throb, or feel like my knee is going to give way. I'm back baby! The Lord gave me a present, in the form of a knee that is whole again.

But the physical healing was not the whole gift.

For the past several months I have been asking God to show me something real in my life. I'm constantly bombarded with the message that my faith is stupid, or vapid, or illogical. It's part of living in New York City. Part of being in the theater world. Part of being on Facebook, or reading a book, or watching television. Christianity is painted as a myth, or worse. And I won't say I've been doubting my beliefs, so much as my enthusiasm had flagged. Even so, I kept asking God to show me something real, whatever that might mean.

He did exactly that. He fixed something that had been broken for so long I didn't even think to ask for that to be fixed until he was ready to fix it and solve two problems in one go. He was ready to make me whole again by giving me a miracle.

I still need a check up now that I have health insurance. I can't wait to feel the chill of a stethoscope against my chest. I'll even ask the doc to check out my knee. But for now, my greatest physical worry has been transformed into something to dance about.

I don't know why he chooses to fix certain things at certain times. I don't know why he fixed my knee while so many have cancer, or MS, etc... On some level I just don't want to know. I just want to be thankful and to keep serving the Lord and to ride on smooth roads with the wind behind me.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


As though the smell of love itself
Lingering, haunting
Definition defying 
But flooding your soul
With unstoppable knowing
And aching and longing
And memory's mischief
Spiteful and laughing
And fading
And wafting
Just out of your reach,
Loose in the room
With the lift of a lid
And the fleeing of steam

Sunday, October 6, 2013


I write your name
In elegance
In hope of grace of form

Musical shapes
Lettered affection
A kiss in ink and paper

All silent as my love for you
And likewise destined 
To be crumpled

Monday, August 19, 2013


When all is lost the loss of you
Stands ancient in my vaults
And so possessed of loss
At least I still may truly claim
That here was love
Torn from this place
And though I never love again
My heart will always have at least
This monument of empty space