Being human

9 06 2011

The Great 50 days of Easter are ending, and somehow I find myself back at Ash Wednesday: remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.

Ash Wednesday is the day that this encounter with ill-health began, ashes smeared on my head, heart pounding, fever rising: the physical reality of having/being a body was very present to me.

Ninety-ish days on (40 of Lent, plus Sundays, plus almost 50 of Easter) being sick is giving me lots of opportunities to experience the inherent limitations of being human. James Martin, in The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything says “Western culture often encourages us to avoid, ignore, or deny this essential truth – we are limited, finite, physical: human”.

For me there are some obvious physical limits – fatigue limits how much I can do, pain slows down my “productivity” – there are only so many vegetables I can chop in one go, knitting requires pausing and breaks, only so far I can walk.

It is some of the other limits that I find myself more challenged by. At the most basic level I can’t prevent other people having to share the cost of this illness with me. If I need to be taken to an appointment or to borrow a car, someone has to do that for me. The lovely friends who I’m staying with have kindly accommodated me well past the initial 12 day mark. Andrew has been working full-time on his own for almost three months in Beijing. Other people are in this with me, and I just can’t make it easier or lessen the impact for them. I am confronted with my lack of control. My lack of power and influence over the course of this illness. “Dying to self” my spiritual director said this morning.

Again and again, Grace. The nature of Love is generous, self-giving and accepts the cost of relationship. It’s humbling. Confronting. I hope, transforming.

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