Monday, February 26, 2018

Unexpectedly Lenten Lent

So my First Week of Lent was, I think it safe to say, the first real Lenten week I have ever experienced. It had, and continues to offer, a kind of "total" Lenten package (especially in the "mortification of the senses" area) and has me marveling at the Lord's providence and humor.

I had been fighting a nasty cold that seemed to cycle back every time I had it conquered. Oh, no. It was only saving the best for last.... After Ash Wednesday, things moved into my middle ear. A consult with Dr Google indicated that, alas, this could be normal. Ditto for other bothersome symptoms. But by Monday of the First Week of Lent, a call to my primary had me spending several hours in the sunny waiting room of a Boston ER. I was surprised at how rapidly my case was handled, and happy to be home relatively soon. But then, I would be back in the ER again soon, too. More than once. I ended up being admitted to the hospital for an overnight, but by then it was clear that a certain window of opportunity had passed and the virus in the ear had found a way to attack the one nerve that controls all the movement on the left side of my face. So now my face is partially paralyzed, I look like a zombie, and four of my five senses are compromised on a rather consistent basis. (So far, the only one of the five senses left unaffected is my sense of smell.)

The good news, they tell me, is that this "Bells Palsy" is a temporary affliction. How temporary? That's as unique as the individual. So, your guess is as good as mine. (I'm thinking--actually hoping is more like it--40 days and 40 nights?)

It seems ironic that just as the Second Sunday of Lent was dawning, with the Father's voice booming across the sky, "This is my Beloved Son; Listen to Him," my sense of hearing was also being smothered (more intensely in my left ear, but also in the right). Problems with eye control pretty much take reading off the table for a while, too. This will truly be a silent retreat, where I will only be able to listen to the interior Jesus, who is sharing with me some unexpected dimensions of his own Passion, fitted to my smallness. One of my earliest thoughts and intentions was to offer this experience in reparation for sins of vanity, my own and, well, why not, all sins of vanity in this media-driven age of vanities? Then as I realized that my sense of taste has acquired a new an quasi-permanent unpleasant guest, I added gluttony to the reparation offering. Jesus, in his own body, won mankind's victory over each of the capital sins. He is giving me a chance to participate more closely, and maybe even in a more targeted way, with him, to offset the magnifying power the media give these deranged inclinations.

I will need to rest a lot more (not complaining!) to give the nerve a chance to heal and regenerate, so  I will have to learn to pace myself better: less indulgence in stimulating enterprise in my office. Your prayers are appreciated as I enter this delayed but necessary time of personal training. Hopefully it will be an intense period of communion with Jesus, inside and out, that will allow me to be more fully at his disposal however things turn out.


Maureen said...

As my friend, Sister Mary Grace says of Lent, "As we get older, we don't need to 'make things up' as penance."

I've worked with medical students who learn about Bell's Palsy when they study the facial nerves. Patients do make a full recovery but the time frame does vary.

Keeping you in prayer!

Tom Garry said...

So sorry to hear of this. Take your own good advice about resting, and feel better soon.

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thanks, Tom, Maureen. Yes, I am doing the rest part okay. ... I realize I cannot right now tolerate the liturgy because of the distortion in my ears. That is a real penance: the liturgy is what carries me! Now it will really have to carry me, as von Bathasar wrote in Heart of the World, "Asleep it was that we were all carried over the abyss, and asleep did we receive the grace of Easter."

You Say “Consubstantial”, I Say “Tomato” said...

Your Lent has aligned you with the Passion of Jesus, and so soon too. Rejoice, Resurrection is coming.

cynthiasolc said...

My prayers are with you, hoping for a speedy recovery!

Sr Anne Flanagan said...

Thanks! Keep the prayers up; this is a full-immersion baptism experience. (Turns out to be not Bells Palsy but Ramsay Hunt syndrome. Pain is beginning to diminish as of yesterday. Still plenty to offer up!)