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

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Day Twenty-Three

A Place of Spring

Written By Mary C. Earle

Practice Note

Meditation: <listen>

Those who go through a desolate valley
will find it a place of springs

—Psalm 84:5

Occasionally, when living with illness has been a dry and dusty road, lonely in the extreme and fraught with fear and anxiety, we come upon an oasis. We find a place of springs, a waystation where we may drink of hope and of community. This is not to say we have found a cure. It is to say that sometimes, unbidden, we find ourselves in circumstances that offer respite and gentle mercy.

We might miss the offering of respite because we have become so habituated to simply slogging through, day by day. We might miss the early sun casting intricate patterns on the wall, or the dog’s soft wuffling slumber. We might miss the savor of that first cup of coffee or the refreshing sight of a red-tailed hawk in the pecan tree.

When living with illness has become a hard journey, sometimes we can choose to seek respite. Sometimes we can find a way to breathe through the hardest spots, to notice something of beauty and grace in the midst of the most difficult circumstances.

A friend of mine was recently hospitalized for a procedure for her condition. In the middle of the night, when it was time for her blood to be drawn, the phlebotomist appeared. He entered the room gently, and turned on light that was sufficient but not glaring. He moved kindly and softly. He found the vein on the first try (thank God!), and left as gently as he had entered. She felt as if she had had a little oasis, a moment of human contact that, while efficient, was also profoundly marked by respect and mercy.

Notice the springs of water on your journey. Notice those moments when beauty appears. Notice when mercy and kindness greet you unexpectedly. Notice, receive, and drink deeply from those springs.

O Christ, you offer living water through your promise of life and hope. May I be aware of the springs in this desolate valley, and may I receive the refreshment You offer my soul and spirit.  Amen.


Practice: <listen>

Recall a time when you have unexpectedly been offered a drink of mercy and hope. Who offered you a drink from the “place of springs”?  How was it offered?  How did you receive the offering?  Give thanks for the offering. Begin to notice and give thanks as you journey with the illness.

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