Struggling to regain her strength post-surgery, she was inspired by a feline angel.
- Posted on May 31, 2013
"You shall mount up with wings as eagles. You’ll run and not be weary.”
The words came from one of my favorite verses, from Isaiah, but why they came to me as I looked out the window that winter morning, I didn’t know. I wanted nothing more than to stay inside underneath the covers. But I had to go out for a walk.
Just a week before, I was in the ICU, flat on my back recovering from heart surgery. I couldn’t even get out of bed. Then I progressed to taking a few steps, leaning on my husband, Doug. It was a relief when the doctor said I could go home, but he gave me strict instructions.
“You need to exercise to get your strength up,” he’d explained when he discharged me. “I’m prescribing a daily walk. Any distance is good at first. Once you get used to it, you can challenge yourself by walking a little farther each day.”
I’d agreed to the program—anything to go home. But now I wasn’t sure I could follow through with it. Getting dressed had exhausted me. “You can do it,” Doug said, opening the door for me. “The sooner you start, the sooner it will get easier.”
I stepped outside and shivered in the wintry breeze. Again came the verse from Isaiah: “You shall run and not be weary.”
Doug was the runner in our family. And my days of running around the tennis court seemed like another lifetime. “Come on,” Doug said. “One foot in front of the other.”
Somehow I made it around the block. I returned home nearly as tired as I’d been right after the surgery. Doug helped me onto the couch. “Don’t get discouraged,” he said. “Tomorrow will be better.”
Tomorrow? I couldn’t imagine exerting this much effort again so soon. How weak I still was! Doug was trying his best, but his encouragement wasn’t enough.
“Maybe you can set yourself goals,” said Doug. “That’s what runners do. Try to get to that meadow on the edge of the neighborhood.”
I’d need an angel to carry me. No way could I get that far on my own. Before my surgery I’d barely noticed the grassy meadow only blocks from our house, a peaceful, open space dotted with wildflowers, tall tufted hairgrass bobbing in the breeze.
Now that short walk might as well have been a marathon. Still, I had to walk somewhere. Every day I trudged a few steps more, closer to my goal, my legs so heavy it was as if they were filled with lead.
In two weeks’ time I stood at the edge of the meadow, breathing hard. I got here, I thought, but I don’t have the strength to enjoy it. I considered the words from Isaiah. Mount up with wings? Hardly.
I was about to turn to go home when a movement caught my eye. I stood stock-still, staring. Was it just the wind moving the tall blades? No. Something was moving in the grass—something big.
Through the blades a tail flicked. Two pointed ears sailed above the grass. Then, just a few yards away, in clear sight, appeared the noble face of a bobcat. I caught my breath. A bobcat!
I wasn’t frightened, despite how close the animal was. I was stunned by its power and beauty. I’d never seen a bobcat before, especially not in our residential neighborhood. But there was no denying the one in front of me.
I watched in awe, marveling at the strength of his muscular body, until the bobcat turned and slipped away in the grass. In the quiet I realized that my breathing had slowed. My legs no longer felt like lead. Perhaps it had done me good to stop and rest.
But as I stepped into the meadow where the bobcat had been I felt more than just rested. I felt rejuvenated. For the first time since my operation I enjoyed the sensation of walking. The crisp air on my skin, the swish of the grass against my legs, the strain of my muscles.
“To run and not be weary...” I almost remembered what that felt like.
The next day I had no trouble getting out of bed. “You’re early this morning,” said Doug when I pulled on my jacket for my walk.
I glanced up at the clock. “I guess I am,” I said. I hadn’t told Doug of my accomplishment in case it was a fluke. I wasn’t sure my newfound energy was here to stay. But now I felt more confident. “I finally got to the meadow yesterday,” I said. “I’m going to walk back there today.”
I took my time, enjoying the sights and sounds along the way. What awaits me today? I wondered.
At the edge of the meadow, I scanned the tall grass. There was no sign of the bobcat, but I felt his presence as I walked around. It was almost as if he were watching me, encouraging me in my recovery, reminding me that God made all his creatures strong. Including me.
I returned to the meadow every day, reciting Isaiah 40:31 as I walked: “Trust in the Lord and he will renew your strength. You shall mount up with wings of eagles....” I didn’t see the bobcat on my visits, but walking had become a reward in itself. I held on to Isaiah’s promise.
Together, Doug and I explored areas far beyond the meadow, and the chilly days of winter gave way to spring, then summer, then fall—until it was winter again. Exactly a year from that first day I made it to the meadow. It seemed only right to celebrate by returning there that morning.
Thank you, God, I thought as I gazed out on the familiar trees, grass and...what was that? Something moving. Something big. A tawny tail appeared above the blades. The bobcat raised its head and looked at me, almost as if he knew I would come.
Thank you too, I thought. The Lord had sent an angel to carry me after all.
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