As I write my weekly message today, I am sick. I went to the doctor yesterday, was given a couple prescriptions to be filled and was told to rest. So far I have been listening to the doctor’s recommendation and I am sleeping a lot.
Like many people, I usually just keep going and going until something forces me to stop. I am reminded, at times like these, of my many limitations and the need to take care of myself.
My illness also gets me thinking about those who have much more severe problems than I do—those who are hospitalized, those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities and the homebound or shut-ins.
Sickness is certainly no fun. Many people get frustrated by it. It is downright depressing for others. It can be painful for us just to watch a friend or loved-one suffer with an illness. Seeing a child with a serious disease or illness more than breaks my heart.
This past weekend I preached about picking up our crosses and following Jesus—the command given in St. Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 9: 18-24). Sickness can certainly be a cross. Whether it is physical illness, mental suffering, or both, I suspect most of us want to petition God for relief like Jesus did in his agony in the garden: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me . . .” (Lk. 22:42)
In general, sickness reminds me that this life on earth—no matter how many good things it holds for us—still involves some form of suffering and pain at various times. It re-focuses my mind on the fact that life in this world is only temporary. Set your heart on the greater things . . . the spiritual things. Someday I hope to experience a heaven without sickness, suffering, death or pain. Someday.
I suspect that soon enough I will be back on my feet, out and about as usual. In the meantime, this temporary inconvenience is once again telling me to slow down and rest a while. Be grateful for your usual good health and overall well-being. Sometimes it needs to be taken away so that you realize what you have.
I guess I have much too much time to think right now.
Fr. Ed Namiotka