18 April 2011

Gloomy Outside, Sunnier Inside

Yes Reader,

Today it is snowing outside (a fact I find hard not to take personally on April 18) but the virus that snagged me last week is in full retreat. All last week the weather outside was delightful while the 'weather' inside was frightful. This week the reverse will be true. The snow will quit but cold rain beckons. The few foolish daffodils that bloomed last week are looking very shriveled now.

I spoke about my illness in church yesterday, reflecting as I did with you folks, on how illness abruptly recalls us to our complex corporal nature. Not only are there billions of cells in us, merrily going about their business without any awareness of the person they create, there are even more bacteria and viruses and mites and stuff living in us as we do on the earth. And they, more than our cells, live actual lives in equal ignorance of the person they inhabit.

Illness is a great teacher of truth. We seem to be very able, capable, powerful creatures, in charge of our bodies and lives. Then, in a twinkling (as Paul and the KJV put it) we find our bodies revolting or unraveling. The unity we possessed comes undone in hours if not moments. And like snow on an April day we are tempted to see it as deliberate, maybe some conspiracy directed at us as an individual.

How naive and arrogant. Viruses and bacteria are just being themselves, mindless and innocent of their effect. That we sicken and even die because of that is only a tragedy to us humans. To them it is not even an event.

What really bothers us about illness is that it insists we give up the fantasy of our majesty. Eventually, we are all undone by things so small we cannot perceive them - microbes, telomeres, genes, rust.

I for one am renewed in my amazement that it does not fall apart sooner and faster than it does.

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