...until you bless me. (Genesis 32).
I "ouch" and "ooched" my way back up the road from the chemists earlier today, laden with heat wraps, passed a neighbour on the way - we exchanged details of our respective back problems (as you do). Mine's been threatening to flare up these last couple of weeks, not helped by a wrestling match at the vets this afternoon either. I'm off on retreat tomorrow, so the last thing I want is to be immobilised with a wonky hip.
The vets visit was...well...let's say it was an 'experience,' involving what should have been a straightforward kennel cough vaccination (For those not in the know, this involves squirting the vaccine up your pooch's nose) plus aspiration of a couple of fatty lumps in GP dog's armpits. Oh dear! It developed into a wrestling match with myself and a vetinary nurse trying to simultaneously hold and reassure a wriggling, squeaking, distraught and (oh the shame!) even a slightly snappy Fido (ended up administering the shot via a muzzle). As he weighs in at a hefty 14kg, by the time we left the surgery, I felt as if I'd just run a marathon at least, and my back was grumbling even more than poor GP dog.
For some reason - and I do make the weirdest connections - all this has put me in mind of Kirsten M and Antonia's blogs about the icon of 'Our Lady and the Playing Child.' As Antonia mentions, a more apt name would be 'Our Lady and the Struggling Child,' there's a real wrestling match going on there. It's heartbreaking for everybody involved. I've had times myself when it's all too much, a mess, such a visceral rush of emotion that all I can do is rage and stamp at God until the anger and sorrow is spent. (at least inwardly. I'm far too 'nice' to voice my feelings out loud!) And then? Ian Cowie puts it so well in his A Regrettable Prayer: "Good God, what a mess! Father, come and collect your lost child..."
I hope, I do hope, that the next time I'm in this kind of situation -and there will be a next time, I'll remember Jacob's encounter with God at Peniel and say "I will not let you go until you bless me." And maybe - just maybe - one day I'll be able to come through the other side with the realisation that "I have seen God face to face."