Days of Grace: Meditations and Practices for Living with Illness by Mary C. Earle. 


Help explorefaith when you purchase DAYS OF GRACE or any other item from Church Publishing, Inc., our Partner in Ministry.

Also available at


Day Seven

A Deadly Thing

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

“A deadly thing,” they say, “has fastened on him.”
Psalm 41:18

Years ago I had the happy experience of being mentored by the Rev. Charles Meyer at St. David’s Hospital in Austin, Texas. Chuck was something of an iconoclast. He insisted that we as a society, and as a people of faith, needed to explicitly acknowledge that we are mortal and that dying would happen to all of us. He did not have much patience with the seminarians who distanced themselves from patients in the hospital, essentially saying, “a deadly thing has fastened on him.” Chuck taught with humor and story.

He was also one who taught by example and deed as much as by speech.

He often said, “Never bury someone until they are dead.” Sometimes when we are living with illness, we will deal with friends and family who inadvertently begin to treat us as if we were not fully alive. Even when we are in hospice care, we are still not dead. Even when a disease has claimed mobility and mental faculty, we have a sacred personhood in Christ.

Notice the persons who help you remember that you are alive. Notice the friends and acquaintances, caregivers and doctors whose engagement with you offers companionship along the way of illness. Give thanks for them and remember to thank them for the gift of receiving your life, however marked by illness it may be—receiving your life as LIFE, singular, sacred and true.

I give You thanks, most gracious God, for those who have helped me along the way. I ask for wisdom in responding to those who can only say “a deadly thing has fastened on you.”  And I give You thanks for leading me to see the varieties of life I have known through this illness. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Write down the names of those who have helped you remember that your life is singular, sacred and true. Give thanks specifically for each person. As you are led, write each person, by email or by snail mail, to let them know of your gratitude. Be specific in naming the gift that you have received—a kindness, a steady presence, a gift of food or good reading material or perhaps a monetary support. Return to this practice from time to time, remembering those who have given you the gift of blessing your life.

Reference Note: All  psalms are taken from the psalter in The Book of Common Prayer, 1979.