Chronic Illness and Holy Week: It Just Won’t Bend.

Reverend Beth+ recently wrote about a little stumble she had.  She is fine, but she banged up her face a bit. She wrote about it here. It’s right on her beautiful face, for all the world to see.

And it made me think of all of the illness and wounds that can’t be seen.  Anxiety.  Depression.  PTSD.

And for me, a chronic illness.

In 2010 I was diagnosed with Chron’s Disease.  And while it is generally mild, and doesn’t cause me too much of an inconvenience, when it rears it’s head it is awful.  It can show up in a lot of ways, and for me it causes terrible inflammation of the joints.  I can’t bend my elbows, walking hurts, ankles swell to gargantuan proportions.  It hits my vanity pretty hard, especially when I can’t do my hair (yikes!). But more so, it can be hard to hold my children which is even more painful.

But more so, it can be hard to hold my children which is even more painful.

Right now, as I work with my doctor to figure out the right medicine, I am experiencing a flare which has decided to settle in my right leg.  Ankle and calf are swollen and my knee HURTS when it bends.  Which makes walking difficult, and kneeling impossible.  Seriously, it just won’t bend.

ENTER HOLY WEEK:

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Now, Episcopalians like to kneel a lot.  You don’t get to experience a service where we don’t do it.  But in Holy Week we get especially bendy, and it’s like kneeling on steroids.  Especially on Good Friday, where one can spend the majority of the time on their knees.  And this year it just won’t happen for me.

And it is screwing with majorly.

As a priest, I suspect I am in the same boat with a lot of my sisters and brothers when I say that I really like Holy Week.  Sure, it’s a lot of work, and come Easter Monday I will want to stay in bed all day…but Holy Week is special.  It is a time when we (literally) walk with Christ through the Stations of the Cross, we wash feet and break bread, and we (figuratively) feel Christ’s pain as he is stripped, whipped, and nailed to the Cross.  And we kneel.  A lot.

And I can’t.

So this year I will be figuring out how to spiritually kneel when I physically can’t.  I will be figuring out how I can be penitent in heart and soul (well, more so than normal) when the body just isn’t cooperating. I will be figuring out how to lead others in that which I cannot do- and somehow come to peace with a body that is indeed made in the image of God but doesn’t work the way that I want it to.

I know that the shadow of the Cross is transformed in the light of the Resurrection.

I know that the shadow of the Cross is transformed in the light of the Resurrection.  My prayer is that my body will be transformed with it.  And if not my body, a close second would be my attitude. Because I would love to see my chronic illness through the perfect eyes of God; to know that I am perfect in my creation, even in my struggle.