|My mom hates it when I rank our pets, but|
Brooke is my favorite. She is sweet and gentle.
"Would you like to speak with a pharmacist again?" the second employee on the line asked after I expressed some confusion about one of the medications. Do you have a chaplain available? I wanted to ask her, despite knowing how ridiculous the question would be. My concerns did not stem from a lack of understanding so much as an alarming suspicion that God was leaving me to fend for myself with scribbled down, misspelled prescription names in the margins of my planner. "No thank you," I responded instead, wondering whether or not the slightly broken quality of my voice was transferring through the phone, "but I appreciate it."
The Monday conversation with the specialty pharmacy was my third or fourth medical phone call of the day, and I had just raced through the hospital app on my phone to grab an appointment off of a waitlist that was released into the portal just minutes earlier. I needed the appointment, yet still felt sick to my stomach about the notion of competing for it with other patients who probably need it just as much. I do not want to participate in this capitalistic system where some people receive prompt treatment and some do not, and at the same time I do not know how to back out of it in the name of these serious ethical concerns when my body is breaking down.
On top of the medical coordination exhaustion, it was a Monday, which is academically my busiest day of the week, packed full of six hours of classes. I had slept very little over the weekend due to back and hip pain, and I did not have the energy to deal with a remote specialty pharmacy. My fatigue this week has been severe, especially in the late afternoons and evenings, to the point where I have had to drag myself to classes, worried that I might collapse or need to lie down along the way. It is so frustrating that I could cry, except that crying would take entirely too much energy. When the fatigue is particularly debilitating, I have to force myself to speak while I hang out with my friends, each syllable adding another weight that crushes into my brain and body. Getting words out feels like it will shut down my system. Given the context, it will not surprise you that on Monday, after I finished up my phone calls and appointment rearranging, I found myself contemplating the concept of Sabbath, and more specifically how the significance of Sabbath changes if you are chronically ill.
|Meet Eleanor, aka Ellie, aka Flotus.|
She is talkative and feisty.
I have a confession to make: in Building Chapels, I mentioned that it makes me uncomfortable when people pray for my physical health, but what I did not consider when writing that post, and what a friend pointed out to me shortly thereafter, is that I do often find myself typing out online prayer requests to a convent (or two... okay three) in the United Kingdom. There is something inexplicably comforting about knowing that there are dozens of holy women praying for me from an ocean away, even when I am not brave enough to ask for those prayers in my own communities.
On Saturday I met a priest in the grocery store after I opened the refrigerator case containing all of the non-dairy milks. I was having a lot of pain, particularly in my back and hips, and I had just submitted a prayer request form to a convent a few hours prior (I feel like I need to clarify that these correspondences are most definitely not an everyday thing). I needed the vanilla almond milk off of the very top shelf for a batch of vegan lemon blueberry muffins I was baking for church, but it was too high for me to reach. The priest spotted my dilemma and quietly offered his much taller stature, retrieving the carton for me and placing it into my shopping basket.
As soon as I saw his clerical collar, I wanted to assure him that the muffins I would bake with the almond milk were for a sacred place full of people who blow me away on the daily with their commitments to love one another and the freeness with which they extend compassion, but that seemed altogether unnecessary, because ultimately he had no stake in the destination of the milk. Furthermore, I think a taller person helping a shorter person in the grocery store is more of an act of human kindness than a priestly obligation. I wonder where these lines are drawn, or if they should even be drawn at all.
|Our little dog, Lexi, (featuring my face when|
Hannah tried to explain the training technique
we are using with Dante to me).
At this point if you were to sum up this post you might observe, You considered asking a specialty pharmacy if they had a chaplain available, you came a hair away from approaching a public preacher with theological questions, you regularly submit online prayer requests to British nuns, and you almost told a priest in the grocery store about the churchly intentions of your almond milk. All of these things are true, though I will note that 3 out of the 4 are almost-experiences, and it is also true that when you put them all together I sound a bit (very?) odd. Perhaps these are the sort of experiences that I should have slowly revealed instead of dumping them all out at once. But I am coping, and sometimes coping follows no particular patterns or logic, and trying to do so within a religious context is extra difficult sometimes and hopefully extra worth it in the end.
I do not encounter chaplains, preachers, nuns, and priests every time I leave my dorm room, but sometimes I do feel as though I cross paths with them more frequently than most of my peers do. Perhaps I am just hyperaware of their presence, wondering if they have some sort of secret to offer, some piece of hope that I am incapable of finding on my own. Perhaps I just find it comforting to know that they have asked themselves the same questions that I do, and that by the very nature of their careers they demonstrate a willingness to look into the face of mystery and uncertainty. It is just now occurring to me that I have been consumed in thinking about my religion lately, finding fragments of it in phone calls with specialty pharmacies, in frantic Mondays that cry out for Sabbath Tuesdays, in teary-eyed walks to the drugstore, in almond milk purchases. Perhaps this heightened awareness of my faith has been obvious based on my last several posts, but it is something that I have just now recognized.
|Dante is thriving. His ears are an inspiration.|
His face could not be cuter.
Very funny, God, I think to myself with varying degrees of sarcasm, not really expecting God to take note of either my appreciation or despair. On the rare occasion that I do stop to imagine a response, I see a warm smile, the smile of everyone I already love and all of those I will love wrapped up in one, and I feel a hug that lifts me out of fatigue and pain, its eagerness softened only by a humble sigh of gentleness, and I listen as the words that I have repeatedly used alongside humor transform into a sacred phrase I have been waiting my whole life to hear, "Very funny indeed."