Empty

Miserable 24-hour stomach flu shared at our house this week. Thanks kids. You are adorable, and the joy of our lives, but you are also grubby, germy petri dishes of bacteria. And it does not help that one of you is a compulsive thumb sucker. Most days i try not to think about all the nasty things they touch and ingest and/or carry into the house. But then some days, all that filth becomes the center of the universe.  

It helps, i suppose, that we took turns. Harper first, then me, then the baby…all in very quick succession. Jeremy a full 24-hours later. [on a side note, how is it that the husbands always manage to get sick after everyone else is better, so that they can actually ENJOY their sick day? Whereas mom has to be miserable while everyone else needs taking care of, and can't just farm the kids out to a baby sitter... I think men are born with an innately aware immune system that says "alright, man, if you've got to be sick, we're going to wait until everybody else is well so you can have some peace and quiet for recovery...] That said, it was nice that he was well and able to take care of the baby while i was enduring the worst of it—he cleaned up some crib messes that i don’t even want to think about, while i lay in a dehydrated coma the next room over.

As i ease back into work today, I am amazed by the resilience of the human body. To look at my children, you would never know that it took 5 full loads of laundry to recover from the week they’ve had. I, on the other hand, am pale, glazed over, have old lady hair, and can’t stand up for more than a minute or 2 without wanting to fall into a chair. Or bed. On the plus-side, all those clothes that were starting to feel too tight, miraculously fit again! If you need a great way to lose 5 pounds in 12 hours, i’ve got a thumb-sucking toddler you can borrow for the day…

For all that i look kind of scary, i know that the veil of sickness has been lifted from me, and i am healthy and whole again. I’m grateful that my illness was such a fleeting thing, when so many suffer from chronic and/or life-threatening conditions.

I’m also keenly aware that, what my body has gained back quickly, the rest of me is slow to find. My rhythm of work and movement; creativity and coherent thought; spiritual reflection on everyday things that must add up, ultimately, to a sermon for sunday; these things escape me today as i stare at blank screens and empty pages.  I search my stores of insight and wisdom for the seed of even a newsletter article, or a pastoral care note–zip. Zilch. Nada.

Which leads me to wonder… is it possible to throw up brain cells? I feel as though a short and yet violoent illness has left me a shadow of myself. As though the ability to think and move and create must be restored along with my electrolytes…and yet, they don’t make a Gatorade for that. 

What is the gift of emptiness? In addition to the “lose a whole dress size in just one day!” thing, i guess it is also a great detox opportunity. For instance, i woke up yesterday a.m. with no traces of caffeine in my system.  It might have occurred to me that “hey! this would be a great day to break the cycle!”  and slowly walk away from the pot. (Coffee pot, that is). As it happened, I choked some down even though it was the last thing i wanted, just because i felt so crummy without it. Sometimes emptiness is scary.

If this is a rambling post, welcome to my life today. Just trying to give myself the grace to find a rhythm again, to be in my body again, to re-locate my brain and my soul now that my body can take care of itself properly… and mindful that out of an emptiness can come a blessed blank slate for what’s next, what’s new, and what’s becoming.

About Erin Wathen

Rev. Erin Wathen is the Senior Pastor of Saint Andrew Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Olathe, KS (www.sacchome.org). She's a Kentucky native, a long-time desert dweller, and she writes about the sacred thread that runs through pretty much everything. For more info, click the 'about' tab above...

  • http://booshy.wordpress.com Jessica

    I haven’t had a legit stomach flu since sometime in middle school…so I definitely do not envy you…except the crazy weight loss that comes with it (dehydration, whatever Dr. Google)…still.

    Hope you’re feeling better/less ramble-y soon!

  • http://unteal.wordpress.com unteal

    Sorry, you have been sick. Feel better soon!!

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      thanks, sandra. we’ve been missing you at foothills! hope to see you back soon.

  • Nancy

    I hope you fully recover soon.

    I do love how your writing seems to fully say and explain all of the feelings of life, motherhood, and ministry. Thanks for sharing your perspective with the world.

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      Thanks, Nancy. And thanks for reading!

  • http://gravatar.com/laurahammpeterson Laura

    This really moved me, and could totally speak to what you’re reflecting on right now with blank slates and emptiness. I linked it to Peter and the transfiguration and clinging vs letting go. Could preach… :)

    http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwpsocialreader.washingtonpost.com%2Ffbwapolabs%2Fme%2Fredirect%2Fwww.washingtonpost.com%2Flifestyle%2Fstyle%2Fsteve-jobs-and-the-idea-of-letting-go%2F2011%2F10%2F05%2FgIQAWxNqOL_story.html%3Ffb_ref%3DNetworkNews%26fb_source%3Dprofile_multiline&h=9AQBEq7-mAQDiAKNjxMlSS8eTG-rTw9U6y0sE1QSjYPpQew

    And wow, that’s a really long link, so maybe just google washington post steve jobs letting go…
    Hope you feel better soon!!! xoxo Laura

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      you know, i used that steve jobs moment several weeks ago… i think it was a sermon about Spirt time verses our own, relinquishing control, etc… Might use it again sunday anyway, it is such a timely message.

  • http://www.propheticprogress.blogspot.com/ gavroche

    You write, “these things escape me today as i stare at blank screens and empty pages. I search my stores of insight and wisdom for the seed of even a newsletter article, or a pastoral care note–zip. Zilch. Nada.” I think this should be called preacher’s block, and I can’t imagine how maddening it would be.

    • http://www.azfoothillscc.org irreverins

      well, it is frustrating, but i wouldn’t say it is maddening. it happens to all of us sometimes, and as you can see, even the block becomes a preaching moment…something to build on. and it always passes eventually!


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