I know. That doesn’t quite have the same resounding ring as “He lives!” or “Jesus Christ is risen today,” but having spent the last two days in bed with something extremely unpleasant, I can say with certainty that the road to wellness has resurrection qualities which would be foolish to overlook — especially considering the season.
When I woke this morning — well, actually at 1:30 this afternoon — having slept for seven consecutive hours without having had my sleep disrupted with a bout of coughing that left me gasping for air, or a fear-filled race to the bathhroom before my bowels disgorged themselves, I was momentarily disoriented. I hadn’t slept that much in days. Rather, I’d been living in the neverland of illness — fitful dozing interspersed with self-pity and bodily inconveniences.
I can’t say I was in perfect health when I woke. Even now, as I type this, I know I am running on cold medicine and determination. As soon as the cold medicine wears off, the coughing, sneezing and congestion will undoubtedly return and my energy will flag, but at least I have this moment, this welcome, welcome moment. For the last couple days, cold medicine didn’t alter my symptoms in any discernable way whatsoever. Because it makes a difference today, I am gratefully encouraged to believe I am on the road to recovery.
And so, after I indulged in a cup of coffee this afternoon, which soothed my sore throat, I vacuumed the carpet, did the dishes, stripped the sheets off my bed and started doing some laundry. For some reason, getting my house in order — chasing away evidence of my temporary incapacitation — seemed important to me. I needed some normalcy in my life.
As I did these things, I started thinking about the activities Jesus chose for his first appearances following his resurrection. He comforted Mary Magdalene; how often in that male-dominated world had he encouraged her to believe her discipleship was as important as that of his male followers? He taught two companions on the road to Emmaus; how often during his itinerant preaching career had he talked to followers as they traveled from one place to another? He built a fire to share breakfast with Peter and the others who had gone fishing with him; what are the odds that he’d done this before — maybe after spending a night in prayer while they fished?
Jesus chose to reveal himself in the normal, everyday activities in which he had engaged before his notoriety carried him to the cross. So often, we think that Christ is present among us only in the transcendent moments of life — moments when our faith lifts us on the wings of joy, or when, in the midst of suffering, we experience ineffable consolation. Even those of us who spend time in prayer on a regular, even daily, basis are guilty of failing to see Christ in all the mundane everyday experiences which make our lives rich.
I’ve joked for weeks about my Easter miracle. Since the manager at the convenience store where I’m currently employed has difficulty staffing the graveyard shift, I’ve agreed to work this when necessary. I don’t have family to take into consideration and am a night owl by nature, so it’s not a problem for me. The minor hardship I experience comes from working on Saturdays until 2:30 or 3 a.m., unwinding for an hour or so before going to bed, and then getting up to attend 8 a.m. Mass on Sunday morning. Since I’m often a lector or Eucharistic minister, I can’t decide to simply sleep in and drive to Rapid City for a later Mass.
A couple weeks ago, I was so tired, I missed a step when I was leaving church after Mass. It was not a graceful fall. I went down hard, scraping up my knees, bruising the palms of both hands and jarring my back so that for the next couple weeks I hobbled around like a woman twice my age. (Well, considering my age, maybe not “twice my age,” but definitely older.)
As I walked home from church, tears streamed down my cheeks faster than blood streamed down my shins. I had been a Eucharistic minister that morning and was wearing my black dress pants — my only pair of black dress pants. I didn’t even want to see what they looked like considering the way my knees felt. It didn’t really matter, because I knew I couldn’t afford to replace them, and I had no idea what I would wear for Holy Week services when I was scheduled to be lector. How could I stand at the ambo and lector during Holy Week in jeans?
When I got home, I took off my pants, cleaned my knees and palms, applied antibiotic cream and bandages to my knees, and then looked at my pants — and looked at my pants — and looked at my pants. Somehow, I’d managed to scrape up my knees without tearing my pants. They were a little dirty, but not damaged in any way.
For the next couple days, I pulled the pants out of the laundry basket several times to check them, because it seemed impossible to me that I had not torn the knees. I kept assuming I was just too tired to see the rip, but each time I saw the same thing. Black pants which were a little soiled at the knees but not damaged in any way. I began to think of that as my little Easter miracle.
But, in light of today’s insight, I find myself seeing those black pants as not just an Easter miracle, but an everyday miracle. How often in the normal course of our daily lives do we experience little miracles that we fail to appreciate? How often do we run into someone we’ve been thinking of? Find in the back of the cupboard the ingredient we needed to finish a meal? Start reading a book that has the answer to a question that had been haunting us?
How often does God protect us from harm when we are feeling a little bruised by circumstances? Renew our strength with the golden glow of dawn after a dark night of the soul? Lift us with the wings of anticipation when we’d thought things were falling apart around us?
Just as his disciples failed to recognize Jesus following the resurrection, I suspect we all fail to see him at work in our lives. But he’s undoubtedly there, in all the ordinary, everyday blessings we easily take for granted — like good health or black dress pants to wear to church. Maybe, occasionally, he’ll remove our blinders so we can see him.