I woke up Monday feeling fine, albeit a little tired. By 1am Tuesday morning I was in the emergency room watching a nurse inject a second shot of morphine into my IV.
Such is the transience and mutability of our earthly lives.
After several examinations and tests, including a full ultrasound, it turned out that cancer or immediate surgery could be taken off the list of worries. I was blessed (truly!) with only having an extremely painful bacterial infection -- most likely a result of my chronic intestinal disease.
One thing the desert fathers say is that physical pain is a trial allowed by God to test those who lack patience and humility. God certainly knows what I need!
As Great Lent approaches, this bit of wisdom from one of the preeminent desert mothers (Amma Syncletica) says it well: "If illness weighs us down, let us not be sorrowful as though, because of the illness and the prostration of our bodies, we could not sing, for all these things are for our good, for the purification of our desires. Truly fasting and sleeping on the ground are set before us because of our sensuality. If illness then weakens this sensuality, the reason for these ascetic practices is superfluous."
"For this is the great asceticism: to be self-controlled in illness and to sing hymns of thanksgiving to God."