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

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Day Twenty-Five

Lord, You Have Searched Me and Known Me

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

LORD, you have searched me out and known me;
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You discern my thoughts from afar.
—Psalm 139:1 

When we live with illness, there is a lot of sitting down, and some rising up. There is a lot of lying down and some rising up. In all of those movements, both physical and spiritual, God is with us. In all of those wild swings of hope and disappointment, relief and shock, God is with us. In every twist and turn, in every improvement and decline, God embraces the fullness of our life, whatever the malady may be.

This God who is with us will not let us go. Sometimes it certainly feels as if we have been abandoned by God—though the longer I live, and the longer I live with illness, the more often I find that what looks like abandonment may in reality be deepening intimacy and trust. How can that be?  Life shatters my various ways of trying to put God in a box. This is not to deny my own confusion or sadness or fear. It is to say that part of me, from time to time, still wants for there to be a ready solution. Part of me wants that fix-it “god”. Part of me wants the magic wand to make things dandy all over again.

The mystery of God, revealed through Jesus, is that God embraces and indwells every bit of our human frailty. God may be found more truly when our bodies are compromised. This is not to say that God gives us illness so that we can be tested. This is not to say that God tends to make us sick so that we can learn something.

It is far more mysterious, more intimate, more beyond human comprehension. The Christian witness is that God indwells our life with divine Life. God is present in and through all that we experience. Even when we least feel it, least experience it, God is there.

Gracious God, You are with me in all times and in all places. There is no place where You are not. There is no part of my being that is outside the realm of your love. Grant me the capacity to trust in your presence and your love. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Begin with a position that is comfortable for you, and allow your breath to find its own gentle rhythm. Breathe gently for several minutes. Then imagine that you are being held gently, surely, steadily by Christ. (Since, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta put it, Christ has many different disguises, allow Christ to come to you as Christ desires.)  Notice how your body responds to being held by Mercy larger than you, far larger than your illness. Rest in this presence for as long as you desire. When you sense that the prayer is complete, give thanks and return your attention to your breath.

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