Saturday, August 4, 2012

days like this

everytime my disease flares, my soul returns to the same place of brokeness. my body aches with the same aches and crumbles under the same fatigue. my mind races with the same fear: what if this never ends?

days like this feel like wilderness.

it's hard to ask for help. it's hard because asking for help inherently implies there is a problem. and i don't want to have a problem. i don't want to be sick. i don't want fevers, i don't want my wrists to ache, i don't want to be so fatigued that i have to calculate every action, every activity to make sure i'll have enough energy. i don't want to be away from work and friends and sunshine. i don't want my bed and the collection of pajamas that friends have given me during past periods of sickness. i don't want the pills and the side effects and the tears that come so unexpectedly.

i know this isn't forever. but in these moments, it feels endless.

when i feel swallowed up by the sadness of it all, i tell myself a story, a story told long ago. it's the story of a nation (israel) that wandered in the wilderness for what turned out to be 80 years. it's the story of their journey from enslavement in egypt into what was called the "promised land." the story starts with their dramatic exodus out of egypt, after ten plagues and a hard-hearted pharaoh that finally releases them.

then there is a brief interjection into the text: god did not lead them by way of the land of the philistines, although it was nearer; for god thought, "if the people face war, they may change their minds and return to egypt." so god led the peope by the roundabout way of the wilderness.

what follows is a long account of their wilderness journey. the stories told from the wilderness are stories of mere survival. of extreme thirst, then water that comes from a rock. of hunger, then bread that falls from heaven each morning. of endless steps, but shoes that don't wear out. they are not stories of victories or thriving or indescribable happiness. they are stories of sustenence. of enough - but not more than that.

what i love about this story is that somehow their being led into the wilderness is an act of mercy. that the more direct route would have brought them into war - so instead they wander and are sustained in the wilderness. 

i don't know what the alternate paths for my life might have been, where a life without illness would have led me. but i hope that somehow this is grace. and i know i have enough love here in this wilderness to sustain me.

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