November 12, 2014
Dear Constant Readers,
I took some time at the beginning of this week to mark my anniversary. This was not the anniversary that I happily share with Lynn. It is a more somber one - the anniversary of the day I became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome on November 10, 2001. Monday marked the thirteenth year with this disease. Thirteen years… At the onset, I could have never imagined that I would still be struggling with this illness.
I marked this particular anniversary with reflection and introspection. I felt sad, but not necessarily depressed. I allowed myself to mourn what has been lost during what should have been my more productive years. I thought about what might have been had I not become ill - what I would have done with my life, how I might have spent those years. I also found myself thinking about what I have gained during this period. I believe that I have a much stronger relationship with Lynn and my children than I might have had if I remained in active ministry. I believe that I have grown both spiritually and philosophically because of my struggle. And though I have spent so much time alone in solitude during these years, I have discovered peace and serenity in my aloneness. I might have been alone, yet I was not often lonely. Lastly, I discovered that I am a much stronger person that I believed myself to be in 2001. I have survived a life disabling condition, but I am still me. It has not crushed nor destroyed me. I have persevered.
As I said, my anniversary did not depress me, but it did make me sad. I don’t think I realized it, but I needed companionship on that particular day. Serendipitously, I checked my email and found a post from a good friend of mine, Karl. Karl has recently undergone back surgery and the recovery period has taken much longer than he expected. On Monday, he, too, was in the mood for companionship and asked if I was available to come over to visit. Of course, I said yes. Maybe this was an answer to a prayer I didn't know I had uttered.
After lunch, I went to see Karl. We spent over two hours in a lively and very spiritual conversation (though not necessarily religious). We ruminated over all manner of things, but we kept coming back to the topic about where we find meaning for life. We discussed the many things that give our lives meaning and purpose. Together, we shared our mutual sense of sadness that we found ourselves in that day. But we also shared our mutual sense of joy in life itself and in the friendship we share. By the time it came to leave, I was filled with gratitude and happiness that I had been without earlier in the day. I’m so glad that I had such a good friend in Karl with whom to share my anniversary. That visit filled an emptiness in me that I didn't realize I possessed earlier that day. As the saying goes, life may not always give you what you want, but it sometimes gives what you need.
With gratitude and grace,