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The Spirituality of Illness – Sabbath

June 13, 2008

I said in the opening post of this occasional series that I did not wish to be defined by my condition. This is still the case. What I mean is, I don’t want to be a person who understands himself by reference to my illness/cure. It will of course for the rest of my life, be something that I must take account of, even in daily things like diet. I will always be conscious of it. But I want to be about more than it too; my story will be about other things too.

It’s here that I find the idea of Sabbath helpful.

I understand that within Jewish traditions of Sabbath observance, as well as the usual prohibitions on work and such like, there was also a prohibition on mourning. Those who wore mourning clothes were forbidden from wearing them on the Sabbath. On the surface this seems cruel or heartless, but I’m not sure. I think it is also about giving those in the midst of tragedy little reminders that they need not forever be defined by their loss, that there will be a time when, though the pain may still be there, it’s ability to incapacitate you will pass.

I like that.

In many ways I have been mourning the loss of a previously inviolate body. It was healthy, strong and capable of doing most things that I asked it. That died last November and the subsequent months have been about adjustment. So it was appropriate that I rode my bike for the first time since November on a Sunday. The importance to me of that ride cannot be overstated. It was a sabbatical act of leaving aside the mourning to rejoice again in my body, weaker than it once was, but still alive and breathing.

And it will be healthy and strong again, imperfectly and in limited fashion in this life, but one day! Yes one day it will be renewed, utterly. Sabbath gives me hope of healing beyond cure.

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From → Cycling, Formation

One Comment
  1. asharedadventure permalink

    I didn’t realise prohibition from mourning was traditionally included in the Sabbath, that’s interesting. Again it shows that out heavenly father knows what’s best for us. Mourning anything, as with worry or looking back at things we don’t want to let go off can be draining not to mention opening the door to doubt, fear and loss of faith. Sabbath helps us to refocus on God, the one who is truly in control. Your identity is as a son of God, who has a hope of greater things to come. Maybe I’ve missed it on previous dialogue but have you got a date for surgery?

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