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

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Day Twenty-Nine

I Will Thank You

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

I will thank you because I am marvelously made;
Your works are wonderful and I know it well.

—Psalm 139:13

Yes, even when we live with illness, we are marvelously made. Even when we have daily struggles with bodies that are laboring to continue, we are crafted by divine skill and patience.

Living with illness can distort our souls if we allow it. Living with illness can lead us to be small-souled and mean-spirited. It is no small feat to grow in love and mercy while living in pain. And yet you and I both know people whose hearts have grown beyond measure despite living with illness. We know people whose lives have become increasingly marked by compassion even though their bodies are afflicted.

One practice that allows us to grow larger souls (become more “magnanimous”=large-souled) is that of gratitude. Can you still breathe? Give thanks for that. Can you still digest? Give thanks for that. Can you still move your limbs? Give thanks that you have them.

And then take it one step further. Recognize fully that you are marvelously made.  Notice that there is physical evidence that you are marvelously made. Notice the beauty, the intricacy, the stunning transformative possibilities of your own body. Notice and remember that you did not bring yourself into being. Not your heart, not your lungs, not your bones, not your toe nails.

Remember and give thanks. Much care has been lavished on the creation of each one of us embodied souls. The Spirit of God who brought you into being will receive you at the end, in freedom and grace.

Gracious Christ, I thank you that I am marvelously made. I thank you that this body works as well as it does, despite the challenges of the illness with which I live. Amen.

Practice: <listen>

Begin by gently paying attention to your breath. Then, as you are ready, look at one of your hands (if you do not have a hand, choose another part of your body). Behold your hand with love. Notice every line, every vein, every crease. Notice anything that makes your hand distinctively your hand. If you wish, trace your hand on a piece of paper. Remember that the lines of your hand are truly unique; no one else has those lines, those finger prints. Your hand reflects the handiwork of God, the singular creative work of the Light from whom you come.

Give thanks for being marvelously made, and pray for those whose hands have helped you along the way in your illness.

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