My wastepaper basket overflowth... evidence that I have not been in good health this First Week of Lent. Every night, I would go to bed in hopes that maybe the next day, I'd feel better. Then, that night would be interrupted with a coughing fit, and I'd be up for two-to-three hours, hoping that I'd get back to sleep. Just as my body would finally allow me to close my eyes and settle into my pillow, the alarm would ring. Time to get up? Really?
Sadly, yes. It would be time to get up. We are doing daily morning prayer for Lent at St. John's, and while I am no longer a member there, this is a ministry I have been allowed to continue, and am happy to make it possible. It's been my practice for a number of years, and I find it to be that "out-of-the-ordinary" that gives me one avenue to remain in touch with God. Lent is a time when we normally pick up some new participants, and we have. In fact, we were nearly doubled in our modest congregation by the end of the week. But leading prayers when you are sick is not ideal, as I quickly discovered. On my assigned date, I needed to duck into the sacristy to get a glass of water, so I could complete offering petitions. On Thursday, when the prayer leader didn't show up, I stepped in. Same scenario: I got to certain point in the service, and could just feel a coughing fit coming on. I marshaled my way through it, but not without straining my voice. I mustered up just enough strength to belt out the concluding prayer at the end:
"Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation in the church and in Christ Jesus. Amen!" (All the while staring up at the Corpus Christi almost in a plea to please make your power work to get these words out of my vocal box!)
Friday, I was scheduled to serve as a Eucharistic Minister. I engaged in the mantra, "I think I can! I think I can!" I had rested for an hour before the service. I had put my head over a pot of steaming saltwater. I popped a lozenge in my mouth to help coat my throat with lots of good herbs. And I grabbed a big cup so I could place my water in the lectern ahead of time. I wasn't going to have to read as much as at Morning Prayer, so I figured I would be OK. And I was. No problem with the lesson from Ephesians. Led everyone just fine in the psalm. But when it came time to offer intercessory prayers for the bishop, I could feel the tickle in the back of my throat. And then the coughing fit began. I chugged some water. That only managed to catch something in my throat so as to make it near impossible for me to talk. I coughed again, cleared my throat, and strived womanfully to get through the prayers. My eyes began to water, which then was making my nose drip. I pushed through, got us to the end, and then made a quick exit through the sacristy door to cough. And cough. And cough some more. I drank more water. Blew my nose. Washed and disinfected my hands, and re-emerged to take my place on the other side of the altar to set the table. I was grateful that I no longer had to say anything, besides the words to administer the chalice, which I was able to do just fine, thank you.
I don't know that I really did anyone a great service by being there. But it was too late for me to find someone to take my place. The weekday Eucharists are tough enough sometimes to find clergy let alone the Eucharistic Ministers. And I really believed that I was going to be fine. And, as it was, I was fine. I did survive the event. I did managed to squeak out the prayers. But I think these events also are meant to tell me something else: I am weak, and I need rest. God will bolster me up, but I also need to give my grieving body a break. Grief has knocked the wind out of me. And clogged up my sinus cavity.
At one point late Thursday, I had the feeling that my only answer was to really surrender and acknowledge that this virus (and the doctor's blood and oxygen tests point to it being a virus) is simply going to run its course no matter what I do, or think, or will, or want.
I'm weighing whether to make the trek to Thomasville in the morning, and the choir rehearsal, and the lunch date that I'm supposed to have after that. I'll see how my body is doing. Thus far, it's a real toss up.