Rainy Day Reflections
I’ve been too busy lately to do a lot of things. Writing deadlines to meet, student essays to comment on, fellowship submissions due and a nasty respiratory infection all converging during the same week left me feeling run down and out of touch with the people and the things I care about.
The tighter my chest got, the more achy my leg muscles became, and more I realized how long it had been since I had seen my friends, the more I knew I needed to make some changes:
Step 1: I started a course of very strong antibiotics and resigned myself to using my nebulizer a lot more often than normal.
Step 2: I saw my friends not once but twice on Saturday—and luckily, I had a husband who was willing to chauffeur me around since I was too exhausted to get there on my own. Catching up with some of the girls was wonderful—we keep in touch via e-mails and voice mails, but seeing them in person and having time to really talk was just what we all needed, I think.
Step 3: I read the whole Sunday paper today, something I haven’t had the luxury of doing in months. It reminded me that I was allowed to take some time to relax, that there is a state of being between overdrive and bedridden.
And then something happened that made me even more refreshed and energized. I was at Sunday Mass when they announced they were offering the Anointing of the Sick following the service. I’d been anointed before when I was critically ill, but it occurred to me that I was asking a lot of my body right now and would be asking even more of it in the near future and I could stand to be anointed.
As the priest said the prayers of healing and hope, I couldn’t help noticing the other people who formed the circle around him. There were about 20 of us in total, and together we spanned several decades, several ethnicities, and inevitably, many different kinds of illnesses. Yet I couldn’t tell from looking at any of them what was wrong—and that was exactly what I needed.
Our circle reminded in a very real and immediate way that I am not alone, that every day there are people all around me who must also find ways to balance all the forces in their lives in addition to illnesses. Their challenges might not be visible to the outside eye, but they are still there. After weeks of feeling isolated by my infection and exhaustion and my workload, it was a relief to feel a sense of community.
As I listened to the priest’s words, it hit me that there are many definitions of the word “healing.” I wasn’t looking for my conditions to be healed, nor, I realized, did I need them to be. Healing can also mean returning to a place of hope and faith—in our own bodies, in the ones we love, in the unseen community that supports us when we don’t even realize it, and in whatever form of spirituality or reflection we subscribe to.
Turned out to be the most productive Sunday I’ve had in a long time.