I had a rough summer this year. I was treated for Lyme disease and the whole process had a significant impact on my ability to do the things that I like to do. It took a toll on my body. There were days I did not want to do anything and would have been happy to stay in bed all day.
I experienced swelling in my joints and other physical complications. There were several weeks during which I was rarely outside and could not walk around much.
In the midst of all this, I experienced a lot of worry and fear. For some of my symptoms, it was hard to know if they were related to the Lyme or if something else was going on. I felt uncertain about the future and unsure how, when and if I would feel better. When would I feel more like myself again?
How many of us have been there? It can feel scary when our bodies experience pain, injury or illness. For those of us that have a history of previous or chronic illness, it can also touch old feelings about how we were treated in the past or old fears that we will not be okay.
There were times over the last few months when I wondered if this was my new reality. Would I have to give up hiking and dancing? I had memories of when I learned I could not tolerate gluten, even in the smallest amounts, and how fundamentally life-changing that was. Was this like that or would it pass?
For me, this time, it did pass, by and large. I went for my first significant hike since August last weekend. I was still cautious, especially when going down hill, and I was so pleased to be out and about, hiking in the woods. I walked for hours, pausing and resting here and there. As I hiked, I felt more confident in my body again. "I can do this," I thought. I found comfort in knowing I did not have to give this up.
As I hiked, I reflected on how far-fetched this reality had seemed only a few weeks prior. I touched on another feeling as well, the feeling that healing is possible. It takes time - it can feel like it takes forever - and, eventually, things change and something shifts, one way or the other.
We are not static beings. The world around us continues to move, grow and decay. When I was stuck in my apartment for days on end with little movement, it was easy to forget that life continues to change, always. It is not always for the better, but sometimes it is. And sometimes there is grace and okayness even in the center of something that feels awfully not okay.
Recently, I was reading Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. In one chapter, she describes an experience she had with her son when he was ten and nervous about sleeping so far away from her in their new home. She set him up with a sleeping bag and pillow on the floor next to her bed. Over the course of several nights, he was able to move farther and farther away, scootching his bag down the hall, through the living room, and, finally, into his new bedroom. A few times, he had to move his sleeping bag backwards to be closer to her.
Lamott writes that grace is like that, "scootch, stall, catastrophic reversal; bog, bog, scootch." That captures how life feels to me, too. We scootch along, doing our best, get stuck, backtrack and eventually end up at a new place. Then we do it all over again. We can fight the whole thing - sometimes I am completely committed to the fight. Or, we can ride the waves, knowing that there will be peaks and valleys, scootches and stalls, and that life keeps happening, changing and shifting.