I take a breath, unaware of the miracle of such a simple act, then stagger to the bathroom, never doubting that water will be there waiting for me. Clean water. Warm water. Coming from a tap. I take a few steps toward the kitchen. The dog is completely out of her mind to see me, but does not bite me, like dogs in bad dreams. Mine just dances in circles, drooling on me like a toddler.
In the kitchen, the fridge lights up when I open it, the coffee pot gurgles when I touch a button, and the toaster pops up a slice of golden brown. We have a table and chairs there. A view. Winnie-the-Pooh did not visit overnight to polish off the honey. There’s peanut butter, too. I sit, munching away, taking for granted the fact that I can taste. See. Hear. Talk. And touch.
I say goodbye to my wife when I should be asking myself, “Why am I among the chosen few whose wife wants to kiss me despite morning breath and whiskers?” Not her morning breath. Mine. How was I singled out to spend the day engaged in meaningful work in an office far from the threat of turmoil and war? Unbullied. Overfed. Appreciated.
Grumble, Grumble …
The whining begins at 5 p.m. as I leave the office for home, when I stub my toe on a door jam. I hop around on one leg, holding my injured foot, squealing, “Ow, ow, ow!”
A concerned co-worker pokes his head through my doorway and laughs. I’m the funny guy. I must be joking, right? “I’m fine,” I mutter.
But the truth is, I’m not. A swollen toe is just one more ailment on a growing list called “The Perils of Aging.” Wrinkles on my face. Hair in my ears. Too much natural gas.
Outside, a bank of clouds moves in front of the sun, and the temperature dips. My new leather shoe is too tight. My pinky toe throbs with each stride.
When I walk through the door, my wife senses within seconds how my day went. I mutter something about cold weather and sore toes and hard shoes. I limp to the table where steam rises from a bowl of soup next to a sandwich. I lift a spoon to my lips. The flavours dance across my palate.
My gaze falls on two badly needed reminders. A picture and a book. The picture is of our sponsor child dressed in worn clothing, sporting a grin. My wife prays for Aldi from Indonesia. Thank You, God, that because of Your goodness to us, Aldi will go to sleep with a full belly tonight. He’ll study at a school tomorrow. And learn a trade. And read a Bible. And hear about Jesus.
My eyes drop to the book on the table, one I was too busy to read this morning. It’s still open to the most Googled Psalm in the book: Psalm 23. “You prepare a table before me … You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (English Standard Version).
Thank You, God, for Your promises For Your presence with me in the midst of my whining. Thanks for 101 things I take for granted each day. For chocolate pudding and dinner with the girl who made it. For a dog who is hoping to sample it. Thank You, God, for nine good toes.