s i l e n c e
I don’t get sick.
So, after my return from surf and weddings I came down with some kind of flu like thing that Doctors didn’t know what to call since it wasn’t symptomatic like the flu. Just as I felt like I was coming out of that, weary as my body was from a week of fever and chills, I came down with something else. Sore throat is the base, but after a week of tonsils that are swollen like Easter egg candy and being unable to swallow or breath at some points, it seems I have something related to Strep or looks like Strep – which, if I recall, I haven’t had since grade school and missed my role as one of the 7 dwarves in our school production of “Snow White.”
What’s been crazy about this is that it comes on the tails of a vacation that was so very good for the soul. Add into it the time being gone plus being sick and I haven’t been able to really work much in 4-5 weeks. And for some reason I have been relatively at peace with all this. Yeah being sick is miserable and there have been times where I was hoping to just up and die and end it all, as we all get when your fever is through the roof, you are sweating profusely while shaking and the pain has gone on long enough. But I haven’t really had much in the way of freak-outs about everything else. Could this be that “peace that surpasses understanding” we hear so much about but if we are honest hardly buy? What’s even funnier is finding myself looking at the facts and acknowledging that quite frankly there was/is nothing I could do about it in the first place.
Oh, there are the paranoid, retrospective types that would say, “you shouldn’t have gone on vacation, b/c then you would have worked and had more money for this time you have been sick,” or “if you hadn’t gone on vacation, you wouldn’t have gotten sick and be in the situation you are in.” Sounds a bit lavish, but let’s face we all know someone like this. We may very well be like this. Always looking for the grey in the silver lining. Another Gorka song speaks to these types: “I used to think peace was the break between wars…I never trusted happiness as far as I could throw it, always expecting the worst cuz I would know it…”
Yeah, I know those types. I used to be one of them. Maybe not so out loud as some are, but in my head I would do the retrospective self-punishment. I would go into whatever choice I made happy, enjoy my time, but if something followed it that was not so fun, or was difficult, there was this part of me saying, “I knew it! I never should have done that…”
So here I am after two plus weeks of near inactivity – a record for me. Frustrated at times simply because I want to be done with it and go play outside. Still, though, there has been and is this ongoing since that God keeps saying to me, “You are doing fine. No regrets. Trust me on this.” Looking back, I wouldn’t have traded time in the ocean for anything. It was right up my alley for what my heart needed. Looking back at the past two weeks of being sick, it has given me so much time to be silent, to read and listen to what God is saying, or not saying.
And silence is a hard to come by in our culture. I was reading something the other day that reminded me the first letter used when God tells Moses the first commandment is aleph. Which, for all you Talmidin is actually a silent letter. When God tells the world that HE is God and He is the one and only that should be worshipped…he starts with silence. Or as Lauren Winner says, “He quieted all the noise.” (Go read “Girl Meets God” by her, very fun and Jewish) And all those crazy Christian churches think worship is singing songs…silly Church, that’s only a small…and I mean small…part of it.
In a sense, being sick has been my own personal Aleph. It is quite the contrary to what normally happens upon returns from trips. My world is crazy enough that it’s just a matter of time before I am back in the noise and commotion. Would I have chosen this? Not likely. Does it make any sense? Not as far as we humans think of making sense of things. Is it good? Damn straight it is! Have I learned anything in the silence and being able to do next to nothing? Well, that would take a whole ‘nother writing. This much I will say, my paradigm has shifted, once again, only this time in a MACRO way, not just in small things. A big chunk of what God’s been speaking to is who I am and who I am not, and all the ways I live more out of who I am not. And that is changing too.
If I actually ever get over being sick, I will definitely not know how to engage the regular world since I am pretty sure the ways I used to do so have been withered away to faint memories that…um…I can’t recall. It’s like learning how to walk and breathe and talk all over again…only this time it’s in the way I was made for. And it took being immobilized and silent.
One last thing. When God is trying to get Israel’s attention and tell them how much he loves them and all that he wants for them, he says in Isaiah, “In returning and quietness you will be delivered, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Most people stop here and skip the next bit of verses to get to the part about God longing to show you compassion. But the rest of the verse says, “ But you would have none of it. You say, “No, we will flee…”
Which is gonna be? Aleph, or flee.
And you better hope you don’t get all the crap I’ve had to listen to the Aleph.