One does not become fully human painlessly. ~ Rollo May
Phillip and I gratefully received our second dose of the Moderna vaccine this Wednesday and initially felt we’d been spared any of the publicized side-effects, until about 30 hours later, when we both experienced every flu symptom known to humans. Chills, fever, sore eyes, headaches, and–sweet mercy–intense muscle pain. We had to laugh through our misery, knowing every bit of pain signified the medicine was working.
I slept in the guest room last night so we could both–maybe–find deeper rest and comfort. This morning, Phillip reported he had a fair sleep, which pleased my heart. I, conversely, tossed and turned from the muscle pain, watched some dull television, read as long as I could, then just practiced deep breathing and listened to the Great Horned Owl hooting along the river from his perch in the ancient oak. I got out of bed to open the door to the deck and was treated to the deeper haunting resonance of his night music, the almost-full moon’s spectacular reflections of branches on brilliant snow, and the sweet smell of seasons shifting. It floated through the chilled humid air: the perfectly blended scent of winter meeting spring. Heady stuff, that of course completely removed any physical discomfort from my consciousness.
It reminded me of other times in my life when my suffering seemed to need deepening to encourage or sustain my healing, and how the companionship of others–friends and beloveds, volunteers, 4-leggeds, or the mysterious combination of a Great Horned Owl hooting in nature’s perfumed moonlight–eased my pain and allowed a time of relief. I thought about the many times I supported my patients through their own suffering until pain medications could help alleviate the worst of it.
Rollo May says we don’t become fully human without pain, I suppose meaning that, in our suffering and afterwards, in recollection, we learn more about others’ suffering, about our own endurance, and about the preciousness of all we hold dear, brought into greater relief.
But I think the concept is worth turning over and digesting more deeply: in our suffering, we become more dependent on others, on the deep peace of the world, for relief. I can’t distract myself with myself; I need others’ words, touch, care, compassion…or the music of birdsong, the beauty of winter moonlight, the aroma of spring brewing just outside my window…it’s all these connections to life that also make us more fully aware that to be human means to be in relationship with everything. We’re here to serve each other’s healing, to ease the pain we endure to become fully human.
And so, although I did not sleep, I felt greatly comforted, and was profoundly grateful for those who created the vaccine, for those who administered it to us, for Phillip and the 4-leggeds, for the owl, the moonlight, the delicate air, and for all the relationships in my life and the ways they serve my healing and allow me to use my gifts in serving theirs. Perhaps we’re only as human as we are consciously immersed in reciprocal and grateful relationship with the world.
Early this morning, I walked out into the misty sunrise feeling a bit more myself, which is to say, different, new, healing, and more fully human.
Some of my visitors this week:
© Copyright of all visual and written materials on The Daily Round belongs solely to Catherine M. O’Meara, 2011-Present. Unauthorized use is strictly prohibited, without the author’s written approval. No one is authorized to use Catherine O’Meara’s copyrighted material for material gain without the author’s engagement and written permission. All other visual, written, and linked materials are credited to their authors. Thank you, and gentle peace.