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 Twelve

Deep Mire

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

I am sinking in deep mire,
And there is no firm ground for my feet.

—Psalm 69:2

In 2004 our 30 year-old-son Bryan was diagnosed with a kind of brain cancer called astrocytoma. He lived for sixteen months with this cancer, enduring surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. At one point in 2005, the radiation created swelling in the brain that led to gran mal seizures. Bryan lived with the seizures and with the hospitalizations. He had a 24-hour brain scan that left him sleepless and disoriented.

When he came home, he collapsed in tears. He was “sinking in mire.” He was exhausted by the cancer, by the constant treatment, by the lack of sleep. He felt there was “no firm ground.”  The most faithful act he could offer was falling apart.

The fact is that there are moments like this for those of us living with illness. We sense that the ground has given way beneath us. We lose our orientation. We feel deep sadness and fear. And it seems that there is no light shining in the darkness.

Allow yourself the truth of these moments. Do not gloss over them. Bryan had family and friends who held him and listened to him in his despair. Not all who live with illness have those kinds of resources. Bryan lost his footing. The path he eventually found in the aftermath of the seizures was very different than the path he’d previously been on.

Merciful and loving Christ, at times I lose my footing. At times I feel I cannot bear up under the duress of this illness. Sustain me in my sadness and fear, in my exhaustion and grief. Encircle me with your love. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Have you lost your footing at times when living with illness? What has that  been like? How have you regained footing, if you have? If not, what shape has your life taken? Reflect on these questions, and, if you wish, take the time to  write your responses in your journal. It may be that you can’t find words to articulate the loss of footing. You may simply want to sit in silence, or you may find that there is a deep sadness that needs accompaniment.

If you need the partnership of a friend or a medical professional as you reflect on this aspect of living with illness, you may want to defer the practice  until you can tell another of your experience.

Be mindful that your mercy for yourself is always held in God’s mercy. If you find yourself in despair, know that others have encountered despair.  Including Jesus.

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