Emerging

Above my desk is a shelf full of go-to books, selected from the thousand or so volumes scattered throughout my house. That shelf holds my essentials: prayer books, spiritual commentaries, lives of the saints, and my current favorites among life-issue books (think Gosnell). I can pick up any of them and come across something about challenges and sufferings and how they are part of the Christian pilgrimage on earth.

Academic stuff, that. No emotional impact. I have been blessed with good health all my life. Not having it is something that happens to Other People. Flannery O’Connor’s MS, St. Faustina’s tuberculosis, the lifelong disabilities endured by nearby author Christina Chase: how admirable to put one’s sufferings at the foot of the Cross as they did.

I now feel like a patronizing fool.

Covid hit me a few months ago, as it has hit nearly everyone I know. A few lousy days and it was over, or so I thought. I waited for the fatigue and loss of strength to ease. I waited for my cognitive skills to get back up to speed; for awhile I couldn’t read or write for more than a few minutes at a time. I kept waiting. I kept needing extra help and physical support. After a few weeks it dawned on me: this is what post-Covid syndrome feels like.

Put it at the foot of the Cross? Only if you count my constant prayer to God to take that particular cup from me. After months, the cup is being withdrawn. I have the uneasy feeling that I didn’t handle this well. I know now that health is a gift rather than an entitlement – I’m one illness or injury away from being right back to helplessness – and I ponder how I’ll do next time. Sure, I’ll offer up whatever burdens come my way. But right in there will be a plea that I’ll no longer have burdens to bear.

That’s humbling. Those books on my shelf seem to reproach me silently. I must say that I wish some of the authors would come visit me; I think we could laugh and commiserate and praise God and encourage each other. They’d give me good-natured teasing for thinking that I’m somehow different from the rest of humanity. (After all, I eat my vegetables, usually; I get my checkups; I exercise; surely I shouldn’t get sick.)

My energy and stamina are returning, gradually. I’m re-emerging. Improvement is by fits and starts, but it’s trending in the right direction. I know that many people suffering post-Covid problems aren’t so lucky. I’m being blessed with recovery. If there’s a limit to it, at least I’m functioning. My gratitude knows no bounds.

And at the same time, I have the uneasy feeling – more than that; the certain knowledge – that the time of illness was a kind of blessing as well. A divine invitation, if you will, to explore places known to God that I had never imagined. I didn’t recognize that invitation, I wasn’t ready for it, and I fought it every step of the way.

Gratitude fills my days. So does humility. The divine invitation might be repeated. I truly don’t know how I’ll respond.


A milestone in my emergence from post-Covid problems was a recent walk, a short one, up a mountain not too far away. I’ve seldom rejoiced so much in such a modest hike. I wrote about it at Granite State Walker, with a couple of photos from the summit.

COVID-19 vaccine progress

researcher at microscope

Last April, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a petition drive to urge the federal Food and Drug Administration to make sure any COVID-19 vaccine be derived from ethical sources, not involving cell lines originating from fetuses killed by induced abortion. So what has happened since?

Some vaccines are in the testing stage already. Two, from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, have been much in the news over the past couple of weeks. In a recent EWTN interview, ethicist Joseph Meaney of the National Catholic Bioethics Center said that neither of those vaccines are developed or produced from human fetal cell lines. I’m happy to hear that, since those two vaccines will likely be the first to market.

As the bishops wrote in their petition last spring, “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.

No matter who’s in the White House or Congress or the FDA or a pharmaceutical company’s board, that’s a message that is going to need to be delivered over and over again.

Photo by Artem Podrez, Pexels.com

Still dreaming

MLK monument, Washington DC

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I have a dream” speech 57 years ago today.

I’m understating the case to say that nonviolence hasn’t quite won out yet. I could fill this post with links to news reports just from today, from this country, proving that point.

With all that Dr. King wrote and said, I keep coming back to his 1964 book, Why We Can’t Wait. I have a paperback edition I treasure, published in his lifetime, without prefaces or afterwords written by people trying to frame his words for me.

In a book that continues to challenge me every time I pick it up, there’s this.

Man was born into barbarism when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience. And he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another’s flesh.

Martin Luther King, Why We Can’t Wait

“Must” become, not “has” or “will.” There’s urgency there. Perpetual urgency seems a contradiction in terms, yet here we are.

Marching

There’s a march in Washington today, timed to coincide with the anniversary of “I have a dream.” It’s meant to be a nonviolent affirmation of the need for racial justice, and I hope nothing disrupts it.

Pandemic or not, I have no problem with a scheduled march for human rights. Coronavirus doesn’t seem to stand in the way of violence anywhere, so it shouldn’t stand in the way of peaceful demonstrations. The National Park Service in Washington seems to appreciate that.

I expect the same courtesy, permits, and COVID-19 precautions to be extended to the March for Life next January.

Featured photo: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC. Photo credit: National Park Service/volunteer Bill Shugarts.