I went to see my osteopath yesterday because I have had a pain in the side of my chest for almost two weeks. It turns out that I have a cracked rib (and a few rotated ones) probably caused by a violent coughing spell or two. Oh, and she suggested that this nasty cold that I have been battling for the past month and a half is actually low-grade pneumonia. Really? That would explain a lot of things. Yes, that would totally make sense.
Isn't it amazing how I continue to function pretty normally, or at least believe I can, when the symptoms are not screaming out loud. I will, of course, respond to blinding red lights and clanging bells and gushes of blood, you know, emergency situations...but an ache, a cough, some fatigue, a slight hint of fever. None of this is cause for concern or even a change of pace. I continue to do my work, stay up late to finish an assignment if I have to, fulfill all my commitments and make new ones, and drink a cappuccino if I am tired before going to class.
We often ignore the body's (and the spirit's) subtle way of telling us something. Rest is so underrated in our society. Being overworked and having crammed schedules is a token of importance, success, and value, it seems. It is hard not to climb onto this treadmill towards nowhere, but this week I resisted: I dropped one of my courses. As it turns out, switching to the thesis option means that I don't need to take 3 courses this term. Nevertheless, I was hesitant to drop one. Besides liking the course, I didn't want to be a quitter. It would be a very busy term, but I was sure I could do it. After all, I am here to learn, right? What a sense of accomplishment I would have when I finished all that work! As it turns out, I was more concerned about my reputation as a hard worker and outstanding student than I was about honouring God with my whole life.
I began to think about what I really value in my life right now, what I am seeing good results from in myself and in those around me. These things are my ponderings and writings, my sharing of life lessons, my creative endeavours, my ability to be a friend when people need one, and my role as Dean's biggest fan. If someone calls me up and asks me to go out for a drink and talk about life, do I want to respond with, "Sorry, I have 50 pages to read before tomorrow?" (Shudder...absolutely not!) Do I want to come to the end of April with three well-researched papers and thousands of pages read only to realise how many people I have allowed to be squeezed out of my life during that time? (Eeeiiichhh...please, no!) Do I want to see the disappointment in Dean's eyes when I tell him I won't be available for a movie night or a dinner out for the next few weeks due to my workload? (Sigh...that's so wrong!) Yes, my schooling (vocation) is important, but not at the cost of a vibrant, connected, and thoughtful life.
If there is a shortness of breath in my schedule, if there is some fatigue in my hope, if there is a pulling apart of my relationships, if there are some cracks forming in my connection with God and my supportive faith community, let me see all these symptoms and take heed, for I am headed towards an exhausted and sick spirit. Oh, everything might seem to be okay and I can function perfectly fine, I tell myself. But I will pay for the arrogant ignorance later on in ways that are dear and costly. This I know.
The holy spirit is ever whispering and nudging us to come closer to God and closer to each other. This is our true vocation and should be where we find our energies directed. This means making difficult choices, but this gives life. This IS life, to my body, soul, and spirit.
This is a pistachio nut on my dining room table.