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Our retreat theme was "Coming Untangled"!

“So, how are we today?” queried the cheerful redheaded receptionist as I arrived eight minutes late to my physical therapy appointment before work yesterday morning.

I’m not a morning person. Making chipper conversation at 7:30 AM is about as pleasant as having my frozen (adhesive capsulitis) shoulder rotated 180 degrees. So each time I go in I try to put a positive spin on the state of the rest of my body parts so the nice receptionist won’t think I’m a whiner.

“We are fine,” I replied. “I have two good legs and one totally functional arm. That’s pretty great, don’t you think?”

I hate going to physical therapy; the spa it ain’t. So I might as well be positive about it. But there’s something far worse than having a frozen shoulder, and that’s being on the receiving end of a cold one.

Giving someone a “cold shoulder” is an expression that may have originated from an 18th century form of hospitality. Visitors to a home who were expected and welcome were provided a hot meal, but those who were not were only offered “cold shoulder of mutton.”

Has it ever happened to you? You smile at someone only to be rebuffed. You attempt to strike up a conversation only to have the other individual turn away, disinterested. You email an old friend who is active online only to have your messages ignored.

A cold shoulder can hurt a lot more than a frozen one.

I just returned from our church’s annual women’s retreat this past weekend, and I am rejoicing. Why? Because the 60 plus women present were a living, breathing demonstration of what community life should look like. They spanned over six decades in age and represented every life stage and marital status : retirees, career gals, and stay-at-home moms. Single, married, divorced, widowed. The younger ones gravitated to the more mature. Women took turns rocking each other’s babies. Small group members provided tissues to catch the tears of a friend they met for the first time that same day.

My bad left shoulder eliminated me from the more active weekend pursuits like rock climbing, canoeing and volleyball. But from my vantage point on the sidelines I had the perfect place to watch the women interact. “They get it,” I thought. “The teaching of Jesus about being His hands and feet to each other? These women totally get it.”

My frozen shoulder was the only cold one present, and I couldn’t be more thankful.

FBC Wheaton Women's Fall Retreat - 10/15-17/2010- courtesy Whitmer Photography

What about you? Have you ever been gotten a cold shoulder from someone else? How should we respond when it happens?