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The Ankler Receives His Reward

As a faithful reader of this, i.e. me and Daniel, the two authors, (if you are a faithful reader sound off in the comments, I’d like to meet you) or if you are a friend, you might remember I had a horrible accident playing basketball a year ago. I chronicled my difficulties under the tag The Ankler.

Well, on February 6 (which was when I began writing this post, the duties of my life have prevented me from writing for a while) was the anniversary of my injury. At the time I was still with a cane but now I’m aid free, although not near finishing therapy.

I will be honest. The day of my injury I skipped mass at the seminary to catch up on some school work, a bad idea right. Well I made that up by celebrating a private mass on its first anniversary in thanksgiving for all that the Lord had given me through it.

As you may remember I dislocated my tallis bone, which in turn caused damage to all the connective tissue in my foot, ankle, and lower leg to which I am still working out the kinks, pun intended.

Well, with many things the Lord tends to surprise us when we least expect it, like Moses exiled from his country and kin only to hear the God of his ancestors speaking to him through a burning bush. My burning bush was the first reading from that day’s mass. It was from the letter to the Hebrews and was speaking about enduring your trials as ‘discipline’ from the Lord that He may build you up. Standard fare from Scripture and moderately appropriate to my intention. Then, after baiting me with that, the author of the letter writes, “So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.”

I’m glad it was nearly the end because I was nearly floored reading in the private chapel of the cathedral rectory. What hope! I had been steadily improving, but still could not shake the fact that I still felt that I needed the cane. My parishioners began asking when I would be rid of it. Friends started asking me as well. Even one of the therapists at the clinic began badgering me. A week and half later I was walking cane free, unassisted and feeling good about it.

Do not underestimate the will of God. He allows for certain trials to build us up, but like He did that day, also shows us that they will soon be over. Other trials will come, most certainly, but a finality of this one will be nice, at least for now. A respite will soon come and I will be both glad and thankful.

Christ the Healer never leave me.

Friday Thoughts – The Basketball and the Cross, an Ankler Adventure

 It has been a great and difficult journey since February 6th. I have experienced great grace from the Lord, some of which I have shared with you. Jesus Christ is none more active than in the suffering of His children. He makes Himself Incarnate in our lives, revealing to us His great love, mercy, and justice. In each moment of our lives, in the most ordinary things, He is revealing Himself to us. That has been my journey as the Ankler.

This latest revelation brings me back to that fateful night two and a half months ago. I was playing a game that I love with people whom I loved. Psychologically I felt safe, unafraid of any harm coming to me. Warming up shooting jumpers, I was working off the rust in my game missing right, left, hitting the rim or the backboard, rarely hearing the sweet sound of swoosh.

Then, my experience of basketball was forever altered. Psychologically I will never feel safe. The rotation of my ankle in a direction the good Lord did not intend marred my hoops experience.

Granted I still enjoy watching the game, especially my New Orleans Hornets. Will I get up and play another day? Probably, but I will be going about things differently. This injury is for me a paradigm shift, an event identified by before and after.

Last night, I was given a gift, a symbol for of this event. No, not the pins that were in my foot. Rather, it was a basketball signed by my fellow hoopsters. It is a symbol that will forever hold this event in my memory.

As I began to reflect on this, the Lord’s revelation to me became apparent. Symbols have meaning. They are not empty; nor are they false prophets. This basketball bring me back to that moment of deep pain. It would seem that I am a masochist to graciously and excitedly receive such a gift that will contains memories such as this. It is not just a symbol though of pain; it is also a symbol of the great grace of God that has been poured out to me over these last months.

It is no different for us with regard to the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is a symbol of extraordinary pain, suffering, hatred, anger, malice and evil. However, it’s power lies not in such things, but, rather, in the grace flowing forth from that sacrifice of the High Priest of the Father. The cross is a symbol of our redemption, a reminder of the saving events our lives. It is a scandal for some. It is foolishness for others, but, for those who have received the gift of faith, it is glory and joy, hope and happiness.

Dear reader do not let this symbol pass you by.

Friday Thoughts – the Ankler Makes a New Friend

Today is a turning point in the movement of the story of the Ankler. After over a month and a half with a external fixator keeping my bones in the correct place after a horrible dislocation, today, hopefully, is removal day.

I have been awaiting this day for over two weeks now. It has been a sort of Advent for me, in the middle of Lent while, still retaining the penitential atmosphere. The Lord suggest I give up walking. It’s been easier than you think, but the ease is not the point here.

Because of the nature of the surgery, I will be going under general anesthesia which is always a risk especially with someone with a breathing malady. So I was a little worried about it. I am not near where I desire to be upon leaving this vale of tears.

What has given me consolation is a new friend, San Turibio de Mogrovejo. San Turibio was introduced to me by a blogger/Twitter friend Billy Newton from The Blog of the Courtier. Today is the liturgical commemoration of San Turibio. Billy suggested a call for his intercession for a successful surgery and a promise from me to make a pilgrimage to his shrine in Peru. See, San Turibio was a Spanish missionary to Peru named bishop of Lima. In 1600, he established the first seminary in the New World. As a seminarian, he seemed like a person to turn to, recommended my Church militant friend. Billy had no idea, okay maybe he did, that he was establishing a lasting relationship between a current sojourner and one who has arrived into the glories of the beatific vision, all in the glorious providence of the Almighty.

Yesterday morning, during my holy hour, I download edan image of him on my phone and using that image had a conversation with him, telling him my story and asking him for his intercession for a successful surgery. I promised him that I would make a pilgrimage to Peru in thanksgiving.

I let it pass planning on coming out well tomorrow afternoon no longer looking like I’m in the beginning stages of being subsumed into the Borg.

Last night, Archbishop Aymond hosted all his seminarians for a dinner. Towards the end of our time there, some of my confreres were speaking about the celebrants chair in his private chapel in the John XXIII house where he lives. He said that it is nearly 500 years old and belonged to a bishop saint in South America, and I said with a glimmer of hope but knowing there were a few of these, “St. Turibius of Mogrovejo?” The Archbishop pointed and responded with enthusiasm, “Yes, yes, that’s it.” I must say dear readers my heart leapt with a quiet but determined joy. San Turibio had assured me of his prayers and intercession. In fact, his presence was much closer than I originally realized.

My friends and readers do not underestimate our relationships with the Church triumphant. They yearn to intercede for us to aid in some small way in drawing all things to Christ.

San Turibio de Mogrovejo, ora pro nobis

Friday Thoughts – The Ankler Experiences the Tragedy of the Healthcare System

Praise God. I have very little pain from the injury that is now a month old. I still have pins sticking out of my heel and shin, but unless, they are kicked, I’m doing okay on the infamous pain scale.

However, complications have now arisen with regard to my care. I have now experienced firsthand the problems with our current healthcare system. I got a call on Monday from the hospital where I was planning on having surgery next week to take these pins out. The lady on the other side of the line let me know, “Mr. Sanders, ________ Hospital is not covered by your insurance (which will remain nameless). If you have had surgery here, you would be out of network.” Despite all the headaches this phone call has caused in my life over the past week I praise God that it happened because I would have had to pain for a full surgery out of pocket with no money.

God’s providence seems to always come with some sort of suffering though. I’ve had to make countless phone calls to ______ Hospital and the new hospital and doctor with whom I am now going to be relating. I’ve had to call the insurance and talk with them.

Then, the frustration builds. I receive a bill from the insurance company (a very reputable one) letting me know they will not cover the emergency room visit, surgery, and care in the hospital the day after the surgery, which amounts to much more than I’ve ever earned in my lifetime of part-time high school jobs and seminarian stipends. What injustice! I was in a state of emergency. My foot needed to be nearly put back on! Hello! Then, I understood. Then, I realized, and now I’m empathetic. What is it?

Man has turned away from himself. His desire for happiness ends in money and in turn dehumanizes man into a means by which money can be extracted. I have  a serious injury, a poor woman has cancer; we can’t pay for our care but care we need. Care is denied or insurmountable debt is incurred. Either way they deny the necessities for good human living.

Honestly, in my ignorance I turned a blind eye. No more can I do that. I am deeply saddened that healthcare bureaucrats are dictating to doctors and nurses how to be of service to mankind.

How many people are swindled into this? I have the drive, the will and the social backing (by that I mean knowing people in the right places) to fight this and right this injustice for myself. I barely have a clue how to navigate this labyrinthine insurance system. Thank God I have family and contacts that do. Many people don’t and give up and pay for the rest of their lives care the should be normal.

I don’t say I have answer or have fully contemplated the different solutions to this healthcare system problem. I only know, now, that it cannot justly remain. Obamacare certainly is not the answer, but what is?

the Ankler

Friday Thoughts – Fall Risk

As I continue on my journey to recovery from a most horrendous injury of my ankle, the Lord continues to teach me things. He won’t let me lie in my unreflective space. He continues to draw my mind to Him in simple ways.

Take for instance the photo to the left. I was given this wristband after my surgery. I thought it funny to keep it especially once I returned to the seminary because my fellow confreres would get a kick out of it.

I thought wrong. Most haven’t mentioned it, or if they have. They haven’t gotten the joke. (Just my luck, I’m the only one that fell for it)

Crutching around, at least in some areas, it is indeed very true. I am at risk of falling. Indeed, I have fallen to the chagrin of my Borg-like right foot, when pressure was placed on it before it was time for it to bear weight. Falling is a danger when I move too fast for my own good on the crutches. It’s just not the safest way to travel.

As I started reflecting deeper though, I came to realize the moral truth in the bracelet. I am indeed a fall risk. I know my own faults too well, and Satan does too. He wants to pull me, push me to fall, fall away from my Beloved. I am at a constant risk of falling into sin, of falling in love with creation neglecting to love my Creator. I am at risk of falling for the distractions of Doctor Who: Season 6 away from the calling of study I have received from the Lord while I finish my last semester.

I go even further though. If you look past my bracelet, you see my body, my humanity. It speaks its own language, and its weakness is a constant reminder that I am a fall risk. My inheritance of original sin and my previous revelries in personal sin make me liable. Even as I grow in union, which is slow, that liability will never cease.

The only insurance that I have is Christ. It is He who will catch me. It is He will even after I fall pick me up and restore me by His infinite mercy. It is He who will be next to me as a perpetual support. He never leaves His beloved. Although I may feel that I crutch alone, I crutch with the strength provided me by Him.

Lent is a great time to remember that we are all fall risks, and we are in need of internal purification. As our spiritual wounds heal, the day will come when we can, with the healing provided by the outpouring blood of Christ, walk on our own to feet and cut the band from our arms.

Let that day come, when it is best to come.

The Ankler

The Ankler is Lowered Down from the Roof by Wily Seminarians

I was very moved by today’s gospel. The spiritual director for the seminary preached this morning tellings that spiritual healing comes before physical healing. The paralytic’s sins were forgiven before he rose, picked up, his mat, and walked. I must say that I had a similar experience.

While on the basketball court one week and six days ago, I asked for a priest. Lying on my back, my foot was in a contorted position. One of my fellow competitors called the ambulance, I had another go fetch a priest. The director of pastoral formation for the seminary came. He was perturbed, to say the least, by the current condition of my foot. He brought with him the oil of the sick. I had been present at the Chrism mass the year previous, when that oil was blessed. Lying on the cold court, I received the sacrament of the sick.

Just this past semester, we studied the theology of the sacrament, its effects, its matter, and form, etc. Intellectually I knew what was happening. Spiritually, I experienced a profound grace. There were sins on my soul that needed forgiveness. There was healing that needed to occur within me. The oil on my forehead and hands placed there by hands that were anointed by a different oil, the laying on hands, the words spoken, were means of sacramental grace that was nearly tangible through the searing pain in my ankle. Where before there was a restlessness, in flowed peace. At that moment, from the sacrament I received the grace to bear this burden, to walk with Christ and learn how to be dependent on Him; to walk with Him up the calvary of looking like a bionic man to die to my vanity; to sit, hoping one day to again kneel, with Him in the Garden on Gethsemane and say, “Father, not my will, but your will be done.”

Physically healing is ongoing. As it progresses, the Lord means to progress my spiritual healing, cleansing from me pride and vanity especially.

I move one crutch, one turn of the wheel at a time, but the temporary Zion of my ordination looms in the horizon. I see and I hope. I walk with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem. Like Peter I am learning more about that to which God is calling me as well as learning the gravity of Christ’s mission in my life.

Till the next chapter

The Ankler

Friday Thoughts – The Ankler

I had three other blog posts planned for this week with more than enough time to write them because I had read ahead in class. Come Monday night, my year changed. I decided to do what I do most every Monday night {no not take over the world, that’s Thursdays} I played basketball. Basketball has been my favorite sport since I was a child. Before I understood the full reality of professional basketball, i.e. it helps to be tall, I wanted to be a professional basketball player.

Ten minutes into the game, I go up for a layup, which is rare due to my aforementioned lack of height. At some point on the way up or the way down, my foot forgot to do its job and keep footing and my ankle gave way. It happens in games all the time, a twist here and sprain there. Nothing big, except for that night. I came to ground writhing in pain I looked at my ankle in utter horror. My foot had turn inward a full 90 degrees making its best Linda Blair impression. My fellow players went into panic mode. They called for a young priest, because all the old priests were asleep. It was after eight thirty. I received Anointing of the Sick for the first time. I tell you; it was a grace filled moment being on the other side receiving the sacrament as opposed to watching other people receive it. The comfort of the spirit was surely there and helped
me to patiently endure what came ahead.

One of my fellow basketballers hailed an ambulance with his arm out and robust whistle. In came not only EMTs but a doctor. Uh oh. A doctor is on the scene? They said they’d never seen anything like this. EMT’s have seen some crazy things for sure. So when I heard this I knew I was going to be the freakshow of the day.

“So what’s your name,” said the EMT that accompanied me into the ambulance.

“Deacon Kyle,” I responded.

“So your gonna be a priest,” he asked while jotting down my health insurance information.

“Sure am.”

This starts many conversations for me, never did I think I would be having it in an ambulance with the EMT caring for me. I used it as a jumping ground to see where the Lord was in his life. He hasn’t been very faithful to going to mass. His work is his life to the detriment of any romantic relationship. I definitely loves to help people who are in situations like myself. Please pray for him, either he’s called to the priesthood or he has met the girl that will help him to heaven. Either way he needs our prayers.

I arrive at the emergency room of University Hospital, the teaching hospital. I became the specimen of the day. Look at this guy’s injury. Something new. I was kindly given cc’s of something that can be sold for good money on the street. That gift was repeat about 10 minutes later. I was in a kindly state. Until the petite blonde doctor, let me know she was going to place my foot back where it should be. {I hadn’t listen to my mother. I didn’t put it back where I found it.} I experienced what a 10 on the pain scale feels like after an unknown number of cc’s of some drug was flowing through my system. I appreciated there the depth of the faithfulness of the Japanese martyrs we had celebrated that day. They went through much greater pain without meds and for the sake of their belief in Jesus Christ.

Now, it was time for surgery. They wouldn’t let me wear my scapular, which I was not a fan of, but I acquiesced. I went under anesthesia and … and … {cough} (cough} {heave} {heave} My eyes weren’t yet able to open and apparently neither were my lungs. I was having an unenjoyable {not that they’re ever enjoyable} asthma attack. In my asthmatic anesthetized daze I could see some sort of contraption on my ankle area, but it was too blurry to become reality yet. The nurse told me I couldn’t get my CAT scan until my breathing was controlled. I never like cats, but I did my best to steady my breathing over a 45 minute period.

My reward was received. My first CAT scan. The technician mentioned something about not being wise and I responded with, “In Proverbs, it says, “Wisdom is the fear of the Lord.” I took both him and me off guard. Post surgery Scripture quoting … only from a seminarian. We had a good little conversation about Scripture, before after my scan, which, thank God, involved no scratches or litter boxes.

Finally, I arrived at my room. It was a private room with a window overlooking the lit Superdome, excuse me, for trademark purposes, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was in the light of the room that I could finally see what the surgery entailed. Two metal rods protrude from my shin while another protrudes perpendicularly from heel. Inside, the ace bandage and other medical linens is a cage called an external fixator that is intended to keep my bones in the right place. No more dislocation, it says to me.

Here is where my final road to priesthood begins … welcome to the life of THE ANKLER.