I have not been feeling well. I’ve stopped working on my book, stopped blogging, settled into the bare minimum that’s required to survive. When I get like this physically, it naturally affects my mental state as well. I start thinking with nihilism instead of the stabilizing stoicism* that’s more natural to my soul. My world stagnates because I don’t keep pushing forward, except to do the work I’m paid for and to care for my family. I don’t like to be in this base survivor state, but I’m often so tired that my needs cease to matter.
And then God mysteriously shows me that they do, in fact, matter. Putting peripheral issues aside, little unimportant matters such as suddenly having a few new clothing items to wear (actually, they’re important, but I pretend they aren’t), I was ignoring my need to see a doctor and finally finish joining the Catholic church.
A couple years ago, I was dropped from the local medical community when my problems weren’t immediately diagnosable. You can’t just dial up a specialist here and make an appointment. They call you. That’s fine; I don’t like all the fuss anyway. Then late last fall, when I forced myself to attend a church event despite how awful I felt, a woman recommended her doctor to me. She raved about him, how he figures everything out. But I didn’t believe her and refused to make the effort, until this summer when I took my children to see him instead. At my daughter’s appointment, the doctor spontaneously decided to examine me as a new patient, too, and set it up so I could get lab tests tomorrow. I’m sure he doesn’t figure everything out; however, I understand now why she said that. He listens and then runs appropriate tests.
I really hate bureaucracy. Really hate it. I don’t like jumping through hoops. This is something you have to do regarding education, medicine, and (apparently) the Catholic church. In a twist of positive turning points, a good friend (whom I should have asked upfront) procured my last convalidation witness statement for me. I now have them all, but the thought of making an appointment with my parish priest hadn’t yet gone beyond the thought…until today. In fact, I was still thinking about it and avoiding making the call when the phone in my hand started to ring. It was the parish office, informing me the priest wanted me to make an appointment.
I told the secretary I’d finally managed to gather all my witness statements and was just thinking of calling for an appointment when she called me.
“Fr Jarek must be a mind reader,” she said.
It was a light quip. Underneath, and unstated, was a different understanding: the priest is in communion with the same God who has promised never to leave me — or any of his sheep — alone.
I already know God generally expects us to be responsible and act on our own behalves; I would never have attended RCIA if I hadn’t made the first phone call two years ago. Also, I wouldn’t have been in the doctor’s office at all if I’d ignored my children’s needs. Still, God is far from being a cold, distant pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps parent. He pulls up those who lack the strength to pull themselves up; that’s actually the basis of the gospel. Sometimes, when he intervenes for us in the physical world, he’s reminding us of what he’s done for us spiritually, too.
I’m writing this post because it’s too easy for me to get into the smug individualistic mindset of the lone cowgirl*: I don’t need help; I do everything myself. Or as Mr. Incredible once said, Fly home, Buddy, I work alone. The truth is I can’t do everything myself. Pretending otherwise just leads to despair. And sickness, obviously.
If my miracles seem small to you, that’s fine. They aren’t small to me, and that’s what matters. Also, you have to admit that a doctor suddenly deciding to examine the accompanying adult of his patient on the spot is at least extraordinarily unusual.
*Stable stoic and lone cowgirl — I sound like two different characters from a romantic western. Snort.