Apr 13, 2019
It was a rather odd little flare-up of multiple sclerosis. I’d gradually gone numb from my lower back, down the back of my legs, and across the bottom of my feet. I could still walk and move normally, and to look at me you’d never know this was going on, but I couldn’t feel the back part of my lower body. I will leave to your imagination the full range of indignities such a condition introduced, but among them, sitting was terribly irritating and at times, a little iffy.
As this exacerbation stretched on for some months, it got a little wearing. One day, it came to a head as I was sitting in adoration. The chapel at my church had very hard wooden pews that were uncomfortable even when I could feel my whole body, but combined with this weird sensation, I was having a hard time entering into prayer. As I grumbled about this before the Blessed Sacrament, it was as if the Lord said to my heart, “Why don’t you kneel, dummy?” (This is one of his many terms of endearment for me; another favorite is “donkey.” You see the pattern . . .)
So, I got on my knees. And, of course, immediately, I discovered this was the perfect position for prayer – I could feel the front side of my body. I could feel my knees and shins pressing against the kneeler. I could feel the pew in front of me touching my abdomen. It was almost like my symptoms disappeared and for the duration of my holy hour, I felt whole and stable and entered into a lovely period of prayer with a huge smile of relief across my face and spirit.
I am a dummy, but a much-loved one.
In contemplating Christ’s Passion in the especially intentional way that we do during Lent, it cannot escape our attention that Jesus did in fact choose human nature to express himself. He does in fact have a body, a vulnerable body with many needs, a body that submitted itself to the laws of human growth; a body that suffered, a body that thirst and bled and responded fully and humanly to every kind of pain. A body that felt relief, too, in our acts of compassion.