Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sick in body, sick in soul

I feel like every time I get sick, all I want to do is write about it. I didn't bother to go back through this blog (or my old one, which I don't think even exists anymore) to see how many times I wrote about the trials of being a sick Mommy. I'll even admit my tongue-in-cheek letter to "HR" the other day wasn't the first time I've written that, or at least a version of it. But I still think it's funny.

In any case, there's something about being sick that makes you so keenly aware of every sensation in your body. On a normal day, I go about my business not worrying too much about how my lungs are feeling or how my throat is so nice and, well you know, not hurting. I don't notice the lack of achiness in my back or limbs or the fact that my head feels, well, normal.

See, that's the thing - normal doesn't feel like much. It escapes our notice. It is the abnormal that draws our attention to our physical presence. My aching head, back and legs, they hurt. They scream sensation incessantly to my brain, as if sending the unending message of, "Pay attention to me!" through my nervous system. Breathing is noticeable because of the heavy, strained feeling of my airways, calling attention to the air as it flows into my body. Ordinarily, I don't experience the feeling of having lungs unless I think about it to take a deep, cleansing breath. Today I feel my lungs as oppressive and painful, sending a message of illness to my brain each time I draw in air.

It occurred to me today that there must be a spiritual connection to our experience of pain and illness. Not just that Christ suffered and therefore we can join our suffering to Him (although that is a pretty weighty concept). There's something to this awareness that illness affords. I am aware of sensations, bombarded by stimuli, bathed in a pool of messages from my body as it fights this infection.

It is a reminder to be aware - not just aware of my body, but aware of my soul. My soul is just as ill as my body is, only in a few days my body will feel better, but my soul will still be steeped in illness. And like a mother who gently strokes the forehead of her feverish child, God reaches out to me to stroke my forehead and help me find the strength to heal. But it isn't my body that worries him nearly as much as my soul - fever or no. The pain in my body is but a mirror to that of my soul and the illness I feel is only a fraction of that which haunts the spirit that is me, the whole of who I am.

I have a natural tendency to try to find God in bad things because I'm convinced it can be done, and because it makes me feel better. In trying to find God in being hit with the flu while caring for three young children, I realized He is there not only holding my hand and stroking my feverish forehead as I have done for my own children, but asking me to look deep inside and see the pain that wracks my soul. And He asks me to work on fixing it.

Or I don't know, maybe I'm just too feverish to be making any sense.

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