This morning, I realize immediately that I have a sore throat.
I know what this means: I’m getting sick (or maybe it’s an allergy or just the dry air in my home or the fact that there’s snow on the ground one day and daffodils blooming the next). Whatever the cause, that irritating sore throat signals something. It’s a constant, annoying reminder to slow down, drink fluids, rest, and get better.
I can’t ignore the feeling of it. With every swallow and every word I speak, I experience that whisper of raw pain telling me: slow down; get better. When I want to push through and scurry about to clean this house, the throat says: slow down; get better. When I want to schedule a million things for the family, that throat responds: slow down; get better.
So Saturday cleaning day isn’t happening. Living with flair means you respond when something or Someone tells you to slow down and get better. I just wish I didn’t have to wait until something painful happens to realize the benefit of slowing down.
Cat vomit, bad parking, and sore throats can teach me something about living rightly, and so far, Year Two of Live with Flair challenges me to learn from whatever negative, inconvenient, or painful thing comes my way.
Thank you for inspiring me to live this way.
What in my life is telling me to slow down?
I count 5 blisters on my hands.
I touch each one. A blister is the fluid that collects to protect the skin underneath from damage. With that bubble of liquid in place, the layer below stays safe and can heal from whatever assaults it. The blister is the skin’s defense mechanism.
These particular blisters arise out of an afternoon of raking leaves and building leaf houses with my daughters. We map out rooms to our imaginary homes and pile up leaves for walls. In our minds, the architecture rises up, brick by brick, and materializes over our heads. An imaginary fire roars in the fireplace. An apple pie bakes in the leaf oven.
It isn’t until I come inside to grade papers that I realize the damage to my hands. These blisters are perfect protection from what I didn’t even perceive was wrong.
I didn’t tell my body to do that. I didn’t even know it was happening. What an intricate design the body is that it protects and repairs without our permission, without our even knowing! So while I’m off imagining a life in leaves, something makes that layer I need to live outside of imagination. It’s protects me when I don’t perceive harm.
Blisters remind me of God’s loving protection–the kind I don’t invite or often value, placed right in my hands so I can heal.
My oldest daughter has a horrible ear infection that’s so bad that the doctor actually looks inside her ear and says, “This is just a mess.” We’ve already had two ear tube surgeries and countless rounds of antibiotics for infections.
What’s so hard is the sheer pain of it. The doctor asks where my daughter was on the 1-10 pain scale, and she bravely reports, “An 8, except sometimes (meaning when she’s asleep).”
We are driving away from the pharmacy with two different medications for her (and also the ear drops for after swimming now that the tubes fell out). She can’t swim all week, and she’ll have ear drops and oral antibiotics. It’s all a waiting game for the ear to heal. She’s counting the days until the pain recedes and until she can swim again.
Out of the blue, she calls out from the back seat: “Mom, did you know if the earth went any faster around the sun, we wouldn’t get to have so many days? The year would be shorter. That wouldn’t be good. We’d miss stuff.”
She’s applying astrophysics to the time it will take for her ear to heal. In her mind, she concludes that speeding things up actually results in loss for her. Just this morning, I read about time and patience. I have trouble waiting, even for a day, for things I hope for.
Do I really want to rush the cosmic process? Whatever the speed of change in my life, it seems wise to fully live out the day and not wish so much for it all to be over–even if it’s uncomfortable. Wishing for tomorrow means I have one less day.
Even in pain, she doesn’t want to wish away the day because of what she’ll lose. It’s ear infection flair!
(photo courtesy of Bruce Sterling )