The OS of Spiritual Life

Over the weekend I had a brief health scare. I'll spare you the details and let you know I'm fine. Got everything checked out. No need to worry. But it was a moment that gave me pause--on a number of levels. First, it was one more unbidden reminder of midlife: I'm mortal. In younger adulthood, I knew it conceptually; in midlife, I'm knowing it actually. Mortality's real...and much of the time it ain't purty.

Secondly, I was surprised at how quickly my anxiety escalated. That stunk. I kept reminding myself of the lordship and gracious care of Christ, but that seemed to do little to stop the runaway beating of my heart. I was confronted again not only with my mortality, but also with my essential human frailty. Ah, this mortal flesh. Wasn't it St. Francis who referred to his body affectionately as "Brother Ass"? I get that.

My brief foray into this relatively unfamiliar realm gave me renewed appreciation for those I call on in the hospital or convalescent home: their own fear and frailty, their disorientation and confusion, their feelings of helplessness and being out of control--these are all very real experiences and, as we go through life, they become more frequent. I feel new stirrings of compassion.

Lastly, as I reflect on how my faith in Christ is called to speak to fears and frailty, I recognize that it's a journey for all of us--and often a slow one. My brief experience over the weekend showed me that like my Dell computer, beneath the relatively smooth Windows operating system, with its simplicity of navigation, lies the strange, unfamiliar MS-DOS. Rough code, raw data, no user-friendly interface. My fear and vulnerability feel like DOS--usually hidden, rarely glimpsed in a quick reboot. Over this primal id lies Windows, my conscious affirmation of faith in Christ--and indeed, my deep desire to live for him. The challenge of spirituality is to integrate these two operating systems--to have Windows lay claim to DOS and have this OS operate seamlessly. To avoid crashing. To become Mac-like (I'm sorry; I couldn't resist). I'm sure my analogy breaks down, but hopefully you get the picture.

My prayers go out for all who feel afresh their frailty. Be encouraged: it is for us that God became human in Jesus Christ. It is for us that he lived among us, fragile and vulnerable, yet trusting in God and showing a sacrificial love that has the power to transform our lives, even if slowly. As we ponder his life, death, and resurrection--and gradually, by his grace, allow these truths to marinate our consciousness--we find resources to navigate all that life throws at us.

How goes it with your operating system?


Anonymous said...

Now, that is a scare Carl. After spending the afternoon with my mother at the hospital and reading your post, Gary's sermon comes to mind and is a breath of fresh air. I keep holding on to that eternal promise and that's what makes it all so "doable". BTW... it was a delightful RUN today but... the trainer is close by... my new sweet crutch. Stay healthy my friend... :) Carol

Carl Hofmann said...

Ah, the friend referred to it, saying "She's a severe mistress." Yes, indeed. You stay healthy, too!

John said...

i think your post also points to the beauty of ~this~ creation, and the meaning in ~this~ earthly life. i think christians sometimes get the idea that this life doesn't matter that much. in fact it does, as it to is a gift from god. i think there is no reason that escalation to panic should be a concern, but simply an indicator that what god has made is good.