This morning came early.
My daughter Rachel has been diagnosed with a snarky kind of thing: autoimmune pancreatitis. She is being doctored by the best. Part of her care involves doing an endoscopic biopsy and so here we are, at 6:30 AM, feeling the mystery of being flesh.
I’m sitting in a waiting room, knowing that there is nothing I can do to make this time any easier for her. Time was when I could hold her on my lap and sing out the scare. Now, we joke and breathe and motor though the morning knowing that on the other side there will be rest and relief.
Our world has been rocked by this realization that every single working part in our bodies is under-appreciated gift. Autoimmune diseases are wily and they defy assumptions, since the body decides to turn against its own good sense.
In reading about autoimmune diseases, I am learning that they are 30% genetic, that if there is one occurrence in a body there are apt to be others, and that stress and environmental toxins are often the catalyst for flare ups.
And I think dear God, how is it we are spewing chemicals into creation so mindlessly that more and more are finding themselves piloting bodies that act out against themselves? When will it be decided that pesticides and hormonal enhancements and all manner of tinkering with delicate balances ought be seen as outrageous and arrogant dabblings in the delicate good that is?
The questions provoked by Rachel’s (and our whole family’s) awareness of vulnerability are many: Was she exposed to toxins? Did I eat or drink something while carrying her? Will her pancreas flare again? How can I keep her safe? What did it feel like to NOT worry about her? All these questions are part of the living of these days and they prompt the most powerful questions of them all:
How will we each live the wonder of our being? How to savor the intricate workings of our bodies? How to care for flesh and thank God for (as poet Marge Piercy puts it) “that which does not hurt”?
How to live health in an increasingly toxic soup?
So many questions while waiting.