Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Eucharist and Infirmity

One of the difficulties I'm experiencing with my treatment regimen is waking up after four or 5 hours of sleep and not being able to return to sleep. I chalk this up to the effects of my high-dose prednisone. I do take a sleeping pill from time to time, but it's not totally effective.

One of the ways to cope with that is to meditate in bed, using various meditation techniques I know. I will start with centering prayer, and then if I don't fall to sleep I use various meditation tapes to enter a deep state of rest. I don't sleep, but at least I'm resting and have energy when I get up in the morning.

Other times like this morning, I find myself thinking, or perhaps anxious. If I sense I have the energy to deal with the task that is calling me, then I will get up. I have been thinking about Eucharist and its meaning to me, especially in relationship with my present illness.

To me the bread on the altar is not just bread that will become Christ's own body. It is also my body there on the altar, along with everyone else body. Indeed the whole world's there. But I digress. I am there on that shelter offering my body in union with Christ. When the body of Christ is broken at the fraction rite, so is my body broken to become bread for the world.

And yes my body is a broken body. I have kidney disease. My kidneys are inflamed too. They are not filtering proteins. My body is weakening and is fatigued. My immune system is out of whack, and it's attacking parts of my body. Yet has my body becomes the body of Christ in holy Eucharist and I receive from Christ in the person of the Eucharistic minister; His own body, the bread of heaven, in that moment, at a real and mysterious level, I receive healing, and the whole world receives healing with me.

I believe that all infirm persons who choose to enter into this healing process at a deep spiritual level, participate in the healing the world. The world is being saved through sick people. God chooses the things that are not to confound the things that are.

1 Corinthians 1:27-31 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord."

I recall again the words of that honest bigot in Angels in America, Roy Cohn.” The worst thing about being sick in America, Ethel, is you are booted out of the parade. Americans have no use for the sick. .It’s just no country for the infirm.”

Roy is oh so right. Yet my heart responds, the infirmed have a place in the Body of Christ. We are at the front of the parade. God has a plan, a purpose, a use if you will, for us.

One of my heroes in this strange place of odd-duckednss call CDSP is Will Hocker. He is a third year seminary with full blown AIDS. He preached a powerful sermon on healing in chapel on Advent. I commend it to you for your own reflections this Lent.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Wakeman said...

Thank you. For this post...thank you.