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


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Day Ten

I Will Dwell in Your House

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

I will dwell in your house forever,
I will take refuge under the cover of your wings.

—Psalm 61:4

Living with illness is all the more difficult if I am struggling with a punitive image of God. If I have a notion that God decided to strike me with illness, it will be very difficult to sense that God is merciful. If I have been brought up to believe that God has nothing better to do than find mean ways to hurt the people God has made, I am not likely to trust that God.

In a strange way, living with illness often unmasks our latent images of God. We discover that we may harbor suspicions that God has singled us out for punishment via cancer or multiple sclerosis or heart disease. If you have found these kinds of thoughts in your own reflection, they need to be seen for what they are—illusion.

The ongoing witness of scripture and tradition assures us that God is gracious and compassionate. God’s own house is known for hospitality and welcome, not mean-spirited action. The psalmist offers us an image as tender as a mother bird, under whose wings we might shelter. As you pray through your own life with illness, allow yourself to notice how you picture God. If those images and pictures fill you with dread and cowering fear, they need to be ditched.

Allow yourself to dwell in the steadfast love of God’s own house, to seek shelter under the gentle wing of mercy.

Merciful and loving Christ, help me to know You as You are. Grant me a sure sense of your presence and guidance, that as I walk with this illness, I may know that your love is steadfast. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Allow yourself to sit or lie in a comfortable position. Gently focus your  attention on your breath. As you begin to enter the prayer, offer these words,

I will take refuge in You.

Repeat the phrase silently, noticing what the  phrase evokes for you. Stay with this repetition for as long as you wish.

When you are ready, relinquish the words. Focus on the breath. Offer silent thanksgiving. You may wish to journal about your prayer.

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