A Bruised Reed, A Smoldering Wick

Today I am writing about how tired I feel. If you think that subject is a weary one, you can stop reading here.

A lot of people don’t enjoy hearing about the trials and tribulations of those who suffer chronic pain and fatigue. Well, I have news for those folks:  those of us who suffer from it don’t like feeling it, either.

I sat down a couple of weeks ago and went through the calendar of all my obligations for the next few months: the teaching, mentoring, chaplaincy, lectoring and other ministry duties, as well as the doctor’s appointments and few social events already booked. I purchased a large, colorful planning calendar to go on my kitchen wall that covers the end of this year and the whole of the next to go along with the small pocket calendar I carry in my purse.  Yes, I have appointment reminders on my I-phone and a calendaring/reminder system.  But I dislike them and cannot get Outlook to work on it. (No server connection.  A downfall of being unemployable.)

Besides, I wanted something giant where I could see a picture of the month at a glance – its peaks and valleys – so I could try to manage my energy levels around them instead of my energy levels managing me.

That practice lasted about all of a week.

I don’t mean to go astray from my plans. It just sort of happens.  Somebody needs some help one day.  Another person needs some the next.  The hours I promised to prayer and exercise cycle away.  Time I thought I had set aside for accomplishing a task suddenly disappears, and the weekend I thought was mine is gone.  The weekend disintegrates more as others inform me of changes in planning that impacts things I already had accomplished.  I spend Sunday computer chained.

Now it is Monday morning and, because I did not sleep enough hours last night on top of it all, I start the week out so fatigued I can barely move. I didn’t sleep because I wasn’t tired.  I didn’t sleep because I was overly tired.  It’s a timer set too far over that won’t be moved back.

That’s the tired part. Now comes the pain.

How do you make people who don’t experience it understand what it’s like to live with pain always humming at some level in your system? Sometimes it is dull and unrelenting.  Sometimes it is sharp and literally stabs you in your back or brings you to your knees.  Then there are the times it feels like a TENS machine has your nerves set to maximum response.  It is a weird, kinetic feeling hard to describe that courses down your neck, shoulders and arms.  No matter how you toss and turn, the strangeness of it won’t subside.  It is like an alien has possessed you and nothing you do shakes it out of your system.

It is taking more effort than you know to make my fingers move on the keyboard right now. But I have a laser focus on one overriding goal for myself:  to publish much before I perish.  And I have only begun this daunting task in the slow wind down of life.

For something I started doing when I was ten years old (writing, that is), it has taken me a very long and circuitous road to reach this pass.

So though I am one of life’s bruised reeds, one of its smoldering wicks, I take comfort in a passage from Isaiah today, because I am told the Lord will not break the reed or snuff the candle out. I am told in the devotional passage on “brokenness” that accompanies this message that I can trust the Lord for His healing.  Another tells me that I might even break out in song about being raised on “eagle’s wings.”*

Carried on “the breath of dawn,”* I do.


(Note: Items starred from the hymn, “On Eagles Wings” by Fr. Michael Joncas; inspired by Psalm 91 and Isaiah 40:31)

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