The Shrinking World

Posted: February 10, 2019 in Uncategorized

Let’s be clear, lot’s of things cause the world to shrink: new discoveries that make us smaller than we thought we were, a change in status where we are less connected than before, the ability to ring up anyone anywhere in the world and chat in real time like I did this week. Pretty small, really.

This came to me this week in dramatic form: When you get sick, like I was, your world shrinks quickly.

I know this professionally from being at the bedside of so many sick folks through my life. Suddenly outside concerns, world events, the things that used to get people all riled up melt away like butter left on the stove top. They just aren’t important anymore.

Now plenty of things are still important, but they are generally the things near at hand: Can I breathe? Am I able to walk, take care of myself, live without pain? Does my food have taste any more? Is my closest circle of friends still present (not the folks on the periphery)?

If your condition is chronic and goes on forever then it wears your pencil down to a nub. It’s hard for the world not to shrink to the outlines of your own body. That’s what you worry about 95% of the time. It’s a spiritual challenge to overcome that and move toward the bigness that has nothing to do with the material world around you as much as the galaxies of space within your own mind. Of course, that includes drawing near to death, the great passage. Lots of traveling to do.

Though my recent illness was highly annoying I knew that it would be temporary. A week is a week and I can get through another day knowing relief is on the way sometime soon. My world can be as small as it needs to be for a while. But what about those for whom the future portends more of the same, no end to … this? My heart goes out to them today.

If, as some of the spiritual masters have said, illness reminds us of our mortality and every time we get sick that flashes through some passage way our subconscious selves, then I’m reminded. Now to living on the other side of that, living with the reminder that we’re not forever but that each day is precious, because it really is.

  1. Don Lanier says:

    Yes, illness has a way of reminding us of our mortality. Thanks for bringing that home once more. I write now as we sit frozen out of our normal world of church and friends and mobility.

    We saw the movie “Upside” recently based on the real life experiences of a man paralyzed from the neck down. How can anyone find a reason to live when you have to find someone to change your catheter? Or, other such daily functions.

    But apparently he did…and there-in lay an inspiration I’ll need for my next pity party.

  2. janice henson says:

    Chronic illness “wears your pencil down to a nub.” That is so true.

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