Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Depleted Immunities

Sick again? Yes, sick again. Since the entrance of children into my life, there has been a steady stream of fluids - snot, saliva, drool - that make their way to my left shoulder and skirt hems, as well as blanketing my face, daily. I generally don't have time to be sick, and therefore will myself not to be. Sort of the way I willed myself not to vomit through my entire pregnancy and labor with Eli (my will had waned by the time Amos came along).

But here I am, sick again. I saw the doctor yesterday after flirting with symptoms a month and being officially ill a week with on-and-off fevers, headaches, dizziness, sore throat, ear pain, coughing, body aches, sinus pain, and finally, laryngitis. After tests confirmed that I did not have mono (score) and am not pregnant (double score given the double scooters), it seems I have a complicated cold and nasty sinus infection. What better day to start a blog?

What better day to also ponder the greats in the faith? I think specifically of great medieval men and women serving in the monastic tradition, caring for others in dark times such as the black plague, while needing to nurse their own illnesses as well. I am a bad sick person. I torture myself by pondering their lives when I feel too sick and self-pitied to get out of bed. Catherine of Siena tirelessly cared for others in poverty and grotesque physical ailments. I think about her a lot when I am wishing I had more strength in me to carry the ailments of everyone in my life. But then I remember, she didn't live past 31. I hope to have a long life. And then I also remember, Catherine knew she wasn't the Savior, just an extension of his power, and I better keep that knowledge straight too.

So here are my questions: what does self-care look like for the life of a parent who cares more about snuggling with a sick child than preserving herself? How do we stretch our arms beyond our immediate family unit to care for the wider body of humans - both inside and outside the church - who need us and to whom we are called? What role does spiritual and emotional exhaustion play in our depleted physical capacities?

I have to admit, the last few months have been long and wearying for me. There has been little space for me to refresh myself in the One who pours out living water for thirsty followers. The depleted immunities of my body are an external snapshot of the depleted immunities in my soul right now. I always feel compelled to serve others. Serve my kids, make my calls, schedule another meeting with someone to talk. But I want to serve God from a wellspring of love and abundance, not human scarcity. And on this sick day, I am led back to the God who restores immunities.
For another tidbit on Catherine of Siena, and some good words on being at home with ourselves, check out:

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