In What Are You Waiting For? Echoes of Anticipation last week, I mentioned my upcoming trip to Nepal and India. I neglected, however, to tell you about my latest health issue because it hadn’t quite happened yet.
I’d had pain in my left side for a few days. I went to my family doctor, who sent me for blood work, X-rays and an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech fetched the radiology doctor, who sent me to the emergency room. I have pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the membrane around my heart. It is “not insignificant.”
The fun part was watching my heart beat on the ultrasound screen, like a butterfly flapping her wings! The boring part was waiting in the ER for hours (which gave me the idea for 15 Ways to Pass the Time While Waiting in the Emergency Room). The sad part was learning that a country high in the Himalayas isn’t ideal for a pilgrim with pericardial heart disease (which lead me to write 7 Tips for Traveling Alone with Pericarditis for Women 50+).
The best part is not being scared, worried, or anxious. I’m in good hands. I’m not talking about the cardiologist (though I’m sure she’s amazing!). I’m talking about God.
How many beats do you have left?
Last week I heard about the DeathClock, which gives you an approximate death date. You input your birthdate and answer a couple questions; it tells you approximately how many years you have left.
I found out what I already suspected: I’m exactly halfway to my death date. That’s why I’m going on a spiritual pilgrimage to Nepal and India! I want to wander God’s earth, reflect on my past and wonder about the future. I want to heal. I want to be a healing presence. I want to die knowing I followed Jesus all the way home.
If you’re uncomfortable thinking about your own death, take a good hard look at your life. Not your past, or your regrets, or even your future marriage, family or retirement plans. How are you spending your days right now? What do you think about, fret over, rejoice in? What are you grateful for or bitter about? Who or what do you think about most often?
“How we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives,” said Annie Dillard.
Maybe you’re like me; you need time and space to ponder how you will spend the remaining beats of your heart. Or maybe you already know your path and are firmly moving forward. Or, maybe you’re uncertain, unsettled or even confused about how to proceed in your life.
Take time to be. Be silent. Be still. Listen to the voices in your head — yours, other people’s, God’s, Spirit’s. What are you hearing? Feeling? Obsessing about? Grieving? Find someone you can talk to, someone who understands. Your conversations, ideas, thoughts and inspirations may seem small, but they matter more than you know.
You matter — every heartbeat, every breath, every day. Don’t waste yourself.
P.S. If you don’t feel like you matter, read When You Believe No One Loves You. I wrote it for a reader who is struggling to move forward after a painful divorce.