Let your loving-kindness be my comfort, as you have promised to your servant.
Sometimes, none of my tricks designed to make me content or comforted help. Yes, it’s true, I’m among the privileged—I woke up this morning, and could get out of bed and make my own breakfast. Not everyone can do that. I can still enjoy the taste of food, the morning’s chill breeze, and that’s a gift.
But as my friends know, there are times I need a “There, there, poor baby,” and this is one of them. With a CATscan and surgery coming up in the next few weeks, and now a cat who’s been foolish enough to get hurt and is unhappy about being asked to remain inside until his paw heals, I’m not coping very well. My acupuncturist told me that before my recent treatment, I was “depleted.” When she finished, I was “full,” but I don’t feel all that much different.
The truth is, I’ve never liked being around sick people, and now I am one. Not sick with oozing sores like the lepers Jesus touched, and not confined to bed, but clearly not among the well-with-no-cares, as I was for decades.
“No one understands like Jesus,” one of the songs from my past proclaims. Jesus must be my comfort, especially when I don’t tell people the full truth about what’s going on in my life. People are not nearly as intuitive as I’d like them to be. I look well enough, no gaping wound like my cat has, so how are they to know if I don’t tell them?
The truth is, I get tired of talking about cancer, the “gift” I never wanted that keeps on giving. I will never be completely well again—that “whole-souled wellness” as a college professor once translated shalom is not mine any more. I need to think about this. If he was right, there’s no reason my soul shouldn’t be whole, even if my body keeps making tumors.
I think it’s the playwright Tina Howe, in the introduction to one of her works, who talks about the fierce love of old women. In any case, I got a dose of that fierce love from the women—some of them with daughters my age—I see on Wednesday mornings. I used to quilt with them, but now that I’ve taken on a part-time job, I show up in time for the healing eucharist service and chat briefly before I go to work. The quilts are better for it.
I told them about the surgery, and they were full of motherly coddling, crying “No fair!”, hugging me tightly, and promising prayer. I’d forgotten that Jesus mediates his comfort through others.