By Deborah H. Anderson
Four times in my life I have been been given a particular hiatus, for 12 weeks. It’s an interesting fact, maybe more so a phenomenon.
The first time was 12 weeks in the hospital in my hometown when I was nine years old, after being in a car that was hit by a drunk driver doing 90 miles per hour. Twelve weeks trussed up in traction while doctors sought healing for almost every piece of my body from my L4-5 to the tips of my toes. It was during those weeks I decided to dedicate my life to doing good works for others and to add to the world. Looking back, knowing my instincts as a child were to overcome evil with good is very reassuring.
The second time I experienced something significant for 12 weeks was the Spring of 1991. At the time I, a woman of deep life-long faith, was writing, producing, and directing a children’s musical, a vaudeville version of The Good Samaritan for my two oldest children’s sixth grade Sunday School class. The powers that be wanted me to direct a show that could be rehearsed in one-hour rehearsals every week with only one outside rehearsal the day before the production.
They wanted every child to have a starring part. I told them it would be easier for me to write that kind of show than find that kind of show already published. So I did. But the minute I started, a bizarre thing happened; I lost my faith. It was the deepest, darkest vacuum I ever experienced. I thought Christians had sold the biggest bunch of hooey ever, was physically repulsed picking up a Bible, and wanted to give up seminary and the call to ministry.
The morning after the show opened (which was a smashing success) it was like a veil had lifted. My faith returned like it was before, with this exception. As one who prayed without ceasing, constant conversation with God, I realized I had not prayed one prayer during the whole 12 weeks of production. I learned, felt deeply in my soul, that God wanted to know my prayers weren’t needed to make good things happen. My prayers were desired to be in a loving relationship with God. Wow! God is God and I am not! What freedom!
The third time was the winter of 2019. Twelve weeks with my foot in the air because I broke my toe on a piece of luggage in the middle of the night getting up to water the cat. A diagonal break, if I put pressure on it before the bone formed a scab, the toe would split in two. Kind of an incentive to stay still with my left ankle mostly resting on my bent, right knee. Lots of time for thinking. I was irritated. I had things to do. Sidelined by carelessness.
Yet, during those weeks, as I thoroughly resented not having a regular life, I came to accept the hand I had been dealt. Born into pretty toxic circumstances, taking a long time to learn who was harmful and who was safe. Dealing with all the fallout a naïve church girl can embody. I came to appreciate how I had positively responded to each negative. I healed a lot more than my toe.
The fourth “12-week sabbatical’ was this past October, November, and December. A bright young surgeon fixed every residual damage from the accident when I was nine and insisted I take three months in isolation, healing, and resting. Never in my life have I had that luxury, for life to just stop, and rest and heal.
The first 12 weeks? School came to me in the hospital in order for me to graduate fourth grade on time. The second, like I said – wrote, produced, and directed a children’s musical. The third time? You can sort out a lot of family relations laying on your back with a telephone in your hand.
This last little while? I had a time for rich reflection watching my body heal, doing snow angels in bed. I developed a warm, positive regard for myself and my own journey and for the good choices I have made and the risks I took with courage and hope.
This 2024, I have decided to live in 12-week parcels. Seasons. I’m going to live out four seasons of deliberate connection to my days. I am curious to observe what I glean from the days of each season. I am open to every opportunity for good and healing. My very best wishes for your days ahead in 2024. May wisdom and warmth and positive regard for yourself bless you every minute of the coming year.