I am slowly regaining my health after almost a month. It has been a challenging time. Only now am I beginning to realize how bad I have felt. I know why I got sick--a rare occurrence most of the time. The exercise regimen has boosted my immune system, so I have been remarkably healthy over the last couple of years. But the stress of the last couple of months as my husband has faced serious health challenges has been enough to undermine my health as well.
In the midst of this drought of good news, I have coped, not well at times, but coped nonetheless, as best I could. I learned years ago that lying curled up in a fetal position may help momentarily, but the problems that bring me to that point still exist and must be faced. So mostly I have learned, with God’s help, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, trusting that there will be mountaintop experiences again as there always have been in the past.
In the midst of such a drought, I cling to my normal routine if at all possible: morning pages and devotions with the Jesus candle lit before me on the kitchen table, looking out upon the ever-changing view through the windowed wall along the back of our home: birds at the feeder and water station and the changing scene as we move from winter to spring to summer to fall to winter again. The view provides evidence of the reality that my dad referenced in one of his frequent sayings, “Life goes on.”
I turn to God and my faith community at such dark times. The familiar blessing of the liturgy and life in a community that loves me helps heal my soul. I walk the labyrinth at St. Francis Episcopal Church and marvel at how that ancient practice of leaving my pain and sorrow in the center at God’s feet always restores my soul. I exercise to ease the stress and to help me sleep. I spend time with family and friends, play with my grandchildren, and look for reasons to laugh.
Mostly, I have learned to reach out for God’s presence in the darkest times, knowing in my bones that God is there, even when I hurt so much I cannot feel the divine presence in the midst of my personal darkness. I dread the dark times in life. Even when they have passed once more, I am wise enough after this many years of life to know they will come again. Life happens to all of us.
If there is any blessing in the drought times of life, it is learning more fully to appreciate the times when life flows abundantly and anything seems possible and to know looking back how much my faith has grown and how much I have been strengthened during the drought times.