The Body’s Wisdom

"Dipping" by Pamela Crane*
“Dipping” by Pamela Crane*

Today I am out of commission. I’m drifting between the kitchen table and the couch, alternately grading final portfolios and resting, and also listening to the laundry churning in the basement.

It’s the end of the semester, and I have a cold. This combination often happens, but usually not until after my grading is finished. It is my body’s way of saying, “Woman! You have worked way too hard, pushed yourself to the edge, and cared too much. STOP. For ONE DAY, please STOP.”

So I stop. I sleep. I watch TV.

Last Sunday in church, our pastor BJ preached one of those sermons where Kylie nudged me to make sure I was listening. I wasn’t. Near the beginning of the sermon, BJ had asked us where we hear God’s voice, and I was lost in thought, chasing the answer to that question. In the moment of Sunday morning, I couldn’t answer, and that bothered me. So I wasn’t listening when Kylie nudged me.

I think he nudged me when BJ said something about slowing down long enough to hear God’s voice. That hearing God’s voice also meansĀ doing. That to obey means you’ve heard.

Getting sick is my body’s way of forcing me to obey. To rest. To slow down. To listen.

After being sick, of course, comes the euphoria of not being sick. Joan Didion writes of this phenomenon at the end of her short essay “In Bed,” which is about her struggle with migraines:

And once [the migraine] comes, now that I am wise in its ways, I no longer fight it. I lie down and let it happen. At first every small apprehension is magnified, every anxiety a pounding terror. Then the pain comes, and I concentrate only on that. Right there is the usefulness of migraine, there in that imposed yoga, the concentration on the pain. For when the pain recedes, ten or twelve hours later, everything goes with it, all the hidden resentments, all the vain anxieties. The migraine has acted as a circuit breaker, and the fuses have emerged intact. There is a pleasant convalescent euphoria. I open the windows and feel the air, eat gratefully, sleep well. I notice the particular nature of a flower in a glass on the stair landing. I count my blessings.


*For more info on photos by Pamela Crane, see Today, I chose “Dipping” because it could almost look like cold medicine or a yin-yang, or like the rhythms of busyness and resting in our lives.

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One thought on “The Body’s Wisdom

  1. Yes, that photo does seem appropriate and I love the quote on migraines. It is so true and I love how it takes pain, allows the focus on it and somehow redeems it in how it clears the system. As a sufferer of migraines I think this is beautiful, and it definitely applies to other pain as well. Thanks for sharing.

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