What does illness teach us? I have no idea. But I watched Diane Sawyer interview the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, on 60 Minutes, and I think he explained how to handle it. He said that the point of boxing isn’t who can throw the hardest hit, but who can take the most and keep going. Isn’t that life?
So it is with school and illness. I feel the testing of my endurance each semester in different ways. Often it is emotional and mental stress, sometimes it is physical, such as pushing through illness to get it done, and sometimes it is a combination. I wanted to quit again this weekend, but I didn’t. I can’t foresee a future in which I quit. I pray, I work, I pray some more, and I push through. I’m not proud of my work right now, as I want to be brilliant and say something meaningful, but what I’m discovering depresses me.
I struggle that my strength is not greater, that I can’t get by on less sleep, that I can’t “pull an all-nighter”, but I know some of my limitations. One of them is that I cannot be sleep deprived. It messes with me physically, mentally, and emotionally. So as I lay down to take a nap this weekend, I felt conflicted. I wanted to keep working, but knew that my body needed rest and that I would be able to work better after resting.
Missing church for illness (I could not stop this annoying, choking, rasping cough and did not want to disrupt the service) makes me feel off. I miss it. I hold in my head, heart and spirit a sense of that holy place that I cannot put into proper words. Things have happened there that cannot be explained rationally. Thinking of it now, I have a sense of something profoundly mysterious and holy. This is the place I go to pray. In this place there are moments when the veil between this world and something other are lifted for a moment. Sweetness fills the place with a scent like roses.
I am not seeking the experience, but it is a grace that was given to me, so undeserving. This grace makes me aware of something holy, mysterious, both known and unknown. I fear to call it a miracle, for who am I to make such a claim? But it was without explanation. And it was beautiful.
This is one of the things that helps me endure, to keep going when I feel like quitting. It’s strange that this endurance is such a challenge. I’ve never in my life felt like quitting so often and so greatly, yet in pressing on, there is a sense that I’m winning battles in a war with my own self.