Funny the way a flu bug can knock you on your ass from out of nowhere: yesterday was full and joy-filled and today... sick as a dog. I will be fine in another 24 hours but right now I'm thinking about the blues and how it filters through all your senses. Not the deep, soul aching blues that make you cry out at night and weep until you want to die... maybe just the low-grade blues that makes your head throb and joints hurt as your stomach tightens up into a mean-spirited fist.
It is good for me to feel these low grade blues from time to time, not because I like it, but because I am usually blessed with good health and tend to forget that so many others hurt and live in a chronic state of fatigue and pain. Most days I feel like the chorus in this great old tune by the Dream Academy: "Life in a Northern Town." Everything else is grey and sad and then the tympani pounds and the joyful voices break through the gloom - almost a la Beethoven (and certainly the Beatles.)
There are two prayers that I go back to over and over again when I visit people who are sick. One is from the Book of Common Prayer and simply says: O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of those who suffer: mercifuly accept our prayers and grant to your servant the help of your power, that her sickness may be turned into health, and our sorrow into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Simple, clear and tender - I like those kind of prayers rather than prayers that are too complicated - and I pray this often - even for myself. The other comes from the Book of Worship for the United Church of Christ; it is a prayer for those who are near death: Almighty God, by your gentle power you raised Jesus Christ from death. Watch over this child of yours, our sister... Fill her eyes with light that she may see beyond human sight, a home within your love, where pain is gone and physical frailty becomes glory. Banish fear. Brush away tears. Let death be gentle as nightfall, promising a new day when sighs of grief turn into songs of joy, and we are joined again in the presence of Jesus Christ in our heavenly reunion. Amen.
I think of it now - and pray it - because while I was in my own funky illness today the mother of one in the church died. I was unable to be present and I am sad. Life is so short - and unpredictable - and I prefer being with those who are approaching death. But, once again, I am learning that I am not in control, right?
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