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At 6:20 A.M., I woke with this dream:

It is evening service at the black church I’ve been attending, at the invitation of the pastor and his wife. Again, I’m greeted and enter the fellowship filled with hymns and prayer. Other than occasional constipation, I am well. The pastor, also a physician, will perform a proctologic exam in his office in the morning. Having had one before, I’m anxious.

The vibrant setting of this dream, the evening service at the black church, opens my psyche to hidden disorders that require identification and correction. The occasional constipation keeps my body/mind starved of vital nutrients, dulls my perceptions, and dumps me within the morass of sloth: Why bother?

The pastor bridges the gap between God’s presence and the worshipers in his black church: such engagement restores disorders that sludge human interactions and quickens spirits into living flames. On my own, I’m powerless to achieve the wholeness to which I aspire.

Yet, I’m anxious. Given my long-standing pride, it’s painful to admit my arrogance and willfulness, smirches upon my character for all to behold. For much of my life, pretense kept such disorders at bay; whenever aware of them, I barely nodded at their toxicity.

Since working the Twelve Steps in Recovery, however, such disclosures become frequent cries to Higher Power to effect the necessary changes. This is precisely the task of spirituality.

With the afflicted Job (10:6), I identify with his cry to God: You must search out my faults and probe after my sin. Such purification works: It’s about becoming humble and serving others.

 

In view of the Covid-19 pandemic, the symbol of the Fourth Horseman in the Apocalypse (Rev. 8:7-8) comes to mind. Plague, mounted upon a deathly pale horse and missioned to kill, seems to have untrammeled access to minds and hearts around the world, my own among them. Everyone admits something is very wrong and looks to experts in government, medicine, and the economy to fix it.

But is this disorder fixable? Seems to me that it runs deeper than developing a new vaccine, consulting the credentialed, and passing more deficit spending bills to resolve this issue. At best, a Scotch Tape remedy might work for the short term, but come unglued with passing of time. So where is the primary locus of this infection, still stalking its victims?

It’s the last place anyone has the courage to visit—our unconscious. Therein, hides our shadow, discovered and mapped by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl G. Jung in the early 1900s. Pride relegates unseemly attitudes, behaviors, and motives into this stinking morass, then padlocks the door, and throws away the key. Illness festers.

But only through delving into our hidden stuff, acknowledging what we find there, and clearing it out can we experience wholeness in our outer world. Critical to this process are honesty and humility, virtues perceived by many as outdated.

However, Jesus of Nazareth left explicit instructions for graced living in the Sermon on the Mount; its practical application, within the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, thanks to Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob. Only with exercise will we bear fruit and keep the likes of Plague cast in outer darkness.

The Sacred Triduum, opening today, invites us to remember the Jesus mysteries and give thanks.

 

 

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