Everyday aches & pains

Last week I had one of those bugs that didn’t fall neatly into a category. I wasn’t coughing or sneezing or throwing up. I didn’t have a fever. But I had body aches and a tension headache that made it hard to imagine that life would ever again be a source of comfort and joy. I tend to get dramatic when I don’t feel well. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to pepper my fretting with the worry over age, and if these aches and pains might be part of some new permanent state——the beginning of the end. Maybe I’m developing arthritis. Maybe this is what menopause feels like. Maybe the energy that has helped define my personality for so many years is retreating and in its stead this crotchety new spirit. Usually warm weather energizes me, but even our late fall burst of Indian Summer in L.A. this week didn’t help. On Wednesday I went for a swim and found I could barely force myself to dog paddle for 20 minutes.

And then it happened. Yesterday, sometime around noon, I looked up and realized that my head didn’t really hurt anymore. And my body had begun to feel fluid and alive again. All the work that had seemed too much to fathom only a day or two before——for school, for a freelance client, for church——was suddenly like lint on a sweater; pluck in off and keep on going.I put on my suit and returned to my mom’s house to see if another try at a swim would be more productive. It was heavenly. The air was still in the 80s as the sun began to set and I lay on my back, kicking, feeling the muscles in my thighs asserting themselves, reclaiming their power. Life was good. The air was soft and warm. And I could feel in my limbs and in my spirit that I would be blessed with this health and energy for many years to come. Or at least until the next little bug or allergy or hormonal shift travels through my system and I forget all over again.

Why is it so hard to remember that our lives are a constant cycle of death and new life. Of stress and relief. Of creation, redemption, and renewal. The Psalms offer me the small consolation that I am no more or less kvetchy and demanding and pitiful than man has been since the dawn of time. And owning up to that actually helps. Next time you’re feeling rotten and just a little bit sorry for yourself you might want to spend a little time with, say, Psalm 6.

Here, I’ll get you started….

Lord, do not reprove me in your anger;
punish me not, in your rage
Have mercy on me, Lord, I have no strength;
Lord, heal me, my body is racked;
my soul is racked with pain.

But you, O Lord…..how long?
Return, Lord, rescue my soul.
Save me in your merciful love…..

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