Oy, not again! After submitting to x-rays a week ago, I hobbled homeward armed with instructions. No broken bones, but for two weeks, amid my escalating stress levels and widening fissures of all kinds worldwide, I have to . . . Totally. Baby. My. Dumb. Foot.
Turns out the great, grey seize of arthritis (think Attila the Hun, on an inside job) chose me for a rampage. Look out, small yet ingenious bones, formerly broken. Meds and rubs, heat and ice, elevation and rest, day after day — Oy, I miss running. And snowshoeing. And walking.
How to reshape a sidelined life? Begin with laughter. (Note leftover “Joy” candle from Christmas.)
Oy is a long-used Jewish word for “woe,” also meaning exasperation or regret, warning, annoyance, pain or dismay. “Oy, my feet are killing me.”
According to Google, “OY,” used as an abbreviation, can signify Oh Yeah or Only Yours. Even Listen Up.
So I do. As of today, I’ve been laid up for a week. Today my recovery coincides with an ancient celebration known as Candlemas. During this annual ritual, people bless candles to be used over the coming year. The custom dates back to AD 496, and the prayers still spoken over wax and wick are lovingly offered by many, including Anglican, Catholic, and Orthodox believers.
Goodness, why not consecrate one’s tools? I pray over my hands and keyboard whenever I write. And a candle usually flickers beside me, on the desk: a quiet way to honor the Light of the World among us.
Hope impels the match — a simple spark, struck against the gloom.
Thankfully, since I’m extra grumpy, a small prayer has evolved. It launches and rounds off an Oy Day. I say it, mentally, when lighting a three-wick candle (Would you believe it, $3.33 at Walmart?). But it works equally well for the lone votive. Or no candle at all.
Paced for the cadence of a relaxed breath, pray the first half of each line on the inhale; the second half on the exhale. I call it my Trinity-Wick prayer, and I watch for what kindles within me afterward. Try it with me . . .
(inhale) Holy God: (exhale) commune with me
Perfect Love: suffuse me
Light of the World: illumine me
(extinguish match to the following words)
Three-in-One . . . I, in Thee
Here am I, use me
“The very act of lighting the candle is prayer,” writes David Steindl-Rast. “I enter into it as one enters a room.”
Fired afresh by an inner expectancy, my foot duly propped on a pillow, frayed nerves settle. The mind clears. The stress within calms.
Despite being laid up, I experience the pleasure of going somewhere by holding still.
What helps when you feel sidelined?
“Vey,” a word later added to the Jewish expression, is oy’s Aramaic equivalent. Today, they’re often used together.