Saturday, 1 December 2012

Just what exactly can I get out of when I'm ill?

I have, as we used to say, got the lurgy. Doctor's orders are to stay in bed and there are no arguments from this quarter on that score. I'm a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to the East Anglia Diocese Learning Together day on Bioethics this weekend, and also to the confirmation group I help out with once a month (for whom I ask a lot of prayers...a third of them don't know whether Matthew is in the Old or New Testament). However, they are in capable hands.

Spending time in bed is something I have got used to over the last 18 months and I am getting better at it, especially now that I have icons of Our Lady and St Rita of Cascia above my bed and a crucifix in my direct line of sight which I can't help looking at. They (Jesus, Mary and the Saints) help me not to wallow in self-pity.

We were required to study some medical sociology at university (why people take medicines, why others don't, how should we treat drug addiction, why do people go to see their doctor etc) and one thing we learned about was the "Sick Role". Wikipedia, a resource not favoured by healthcare professionals (officially...although in my experience a worrying number can be found browsing their patients' conditions at any one time...), has a short explanation. Basically a person who is ill is not expected to carry out their usual tasks/functions. This is fine socially, but it really doesn't work spiritually. When one is lying in bed without the energy even to read, one tends to spend a lot of time thinking and this is ripe time for the Old Woman (cf. Eph 4:22) and the devil to start having a go. And rather than not being expected to carry out my usual tasks, this is a great opportunity to learn to rely more on God and trust in Him instead of myself, to be more docile to his Plan of Love and  to  become a little bit holier. I often think that difference between someone who is a saint and someone who isn't (yet), is that the former realises the a trial, mortification, illness, difficulty, temptation or bad day, is an opportunity for holiness at the moment when its actually happeneing. All too often I don't even realise until about two days after the event.

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