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

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Day Thirteen

Answer Me

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

Answer me, O LORD, for your love is kind;
In your great compassion, turn to me.

—Psalm 69:18

We all want answers. One of my ways of dealing with the mysterious aspects of illness is to get more information. While knowledge can be helpful, it won’t necessarily provide answers. Our bodies are amazing creations, and while modern medicine is pretty amazing, it is still more of an art than a science. My grandfather was a physician, and he was fond of saying, “Medicine is an inexact science.” 

When I had my first attack of acute pancreatitis in 1995, the search for WHY began. I had blood tests. I had CT scans and MRIs. The doctor took a complete medical history. And to this day, we don’t really know why it started. Yes, I’d had a bad virus the week before, and sometimes a virus will trigger pancreatitis. Yes, I had high triglycerides. So that could be the source. And yes, there was that anomaly—that anatomical glitch.

I almost drove myself nuts trying to find an answer. Then I realized that trying to find the answer was trying to find a cure. In and of itself, that is not a bad thing. However, my own search for an answer kept leading me to miss my own life. Yes, it was a different life. It was a life whose boundaries had been enclosed by an illness. In a startling way, letting go of the need for an answer allowed for my soul to heal.

A wise physician said to me, “Try to find a balance. Live your life before you lose it. And let yourself know that you live with the illness.”

Gracious Christ, author of wisdom, grant me the patience and the willingness to live without answers. Help me to cherish each day I am given and to savor the goodness of the life I am living. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Beginning today, start keeping track of what you savor in the life you are living with illness. Be specific. Name anything that comes to mind. (Often we overlook the goodness that is somewhat ordinary; beginning to name it helps us  notice more of the goodness that coexists with the illness.) My own list, this  morning, includes Maggie, our border collie, and Cuthbert and Leftovers, our cats. Also on this ongoing list of what I savor are: the aroma and taste of coffee,  the roses blooming on the deck, e-mails from dear friends, much needed rain.

Your list will be as singular as your life. Remember to savor as you move through your day, and give thanks.

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