I have been sick the last couple days! It began with some turbulence in the stomach and then spread down through the intestinal tract. I hate it when I get sick; I enjoy eating, working out, feeling good, getting out and about. A couple nights ago I awoke in pain during the night and felt fear; first I asked, “Is it the celiac disease which is fairly common among the women in my family?” Later it was, “Perhaps it’s colon cancer, such as I have seen in many over my years.” Then on the next wake up it was, “Maybe it’s pancreatic cancer!” As I lay there in bed, I pondered my attitude if such were the case; could I let go, forgive myself for having such, and let the body simply run its course, returning to the nothingness that it is?
In much of the popular religious thinking, including the tradition of Christianity, sickness is seen as a sin. As Jesus frequently is portrayed giving physical healing, he announces the forgiveness of sin first. People asked him once, over a person lame or sick from birth, “Who is responsible for this sickness, his parents or himself?”
Anthony de Mello once said that “One is never so full of himself than when he or she is sick!” What did he mean? One is never so full of his or her ego self, the body-form identity than when she is sick. In the Course in Miracles, sickness is seen as a way to manipulate God and others, seeking to blame God and them for the situation in which we are found. “By your hands I die!” we would like to convey, and ultimately, of course, it is by the hands of God we are in this mess, since God made us and this world of sickness and death.
Sickness is actually a powerful opportunity to reverse and undo some of our thinking about God making us and this world of death and violence. We can come anew to the choice that it isn’t God who made these bodies and the world around us, but we ourselves. It was our choice to come here, to usurp God from His throne, saying, “Look what I did? Who needs You?” Of course, we quickly realize how crazy this is so we turn it around and make God the Maker of all this and can easily blame Him for all the sickness and death which occur. “Oh God, how could you do this to me? How could you do this to a little child, my parents, my child, my neighbor, etc. etc.?”
If honest in sickness, we can forgive ourselves for these misperceptions and simply begin to say, “This is a pretty fragile and crazy world, where death and disease reign, and where the Grim Reaper awaits at every door!” As the Course says, “The world you see is the delusional system of those made mad by guilt. Look carefully at this world, and you will realize that this is so. For this world is the symbol of punishment, and all the laws that seem to govern it are the laws of death. Children are born into it through pain and in pain. Their growth is attended by suffering, and they learn of sorrow and separation and death. They minds seem to be trapped in their brain, and its powers to decline if their bodies are hurt. They seem to love, yet they desert and are deserted. They appear to lose what they love, perhaps the most insane belief of all. and their bodies wither and gasp and are laid in the ground, and are no more. Not one of them but has thought that God is cruel.” (Chap. 13:2)
The experience of sickness thus is another opportunity to chose again, to accept responsibility for the world I have made, and in forgiving myself, turn back to God by a choice of mind, by the correction of an error. Sickness is the time we are so full of our selves, our false selves, blaming God, blaming others, blaming everything except our own erroneous thinking. Sickness then can become a time to let go, to remember again there is no separation, there is no sin, and we are eternally One with God our Creator. As Paul once wrote, “To live (in a body) is Christ but to die (in the body) is but gain.” And “whether we live or die, it is for the Lord, the Creator.” For death is no more to the awakened mind, and we but walk our path, learning the lessons of release and forgiveness, spreading a few more smiles around, and hopefully, touching other minds with peace and vision, with eternal sinlessness.
Be well, be kind, be forgiving, and as you look over your frail body and weary world, remember you are part of an eternal one, far beyond time and space. We are one.
"Spirit am I, the holy Child of God. Free of all limitations. Safe and healed and whole. Free to forgive and free to save the world!" ACIM, Lesson 97