Scritch, scratch

(I have been absent from the blog for a few weeks while dealing with hip surgery, knee problems, a busy schedule, etc   I am back… reflecting on the bits and pieces of life).

My adventures in medicine continue. Left total hip replacement is healing. Right knee now looks like a candidate for replacing (though no time soon I hope).  Looking good – right?  poison ivyNot quite…

For more than a week now I have had a rash that has become more insistent and itchy each day. From a small patch on my hand and shin, I now have a rash from my neck to my ankle.  It has keeping me awake at night and irritable during the day. This is neither a real problem nor a risk to my health – but it is annoying!

I find it has gotten under my skin in both a literal and figurative way.  I am more fidgety, less patient, and closer to the being edgy in my rapport with others. I can’t concentrate, and am finding it harder get myself motivated to do what I really need to get done. It is a major inconvenience.

So why am I taking up public space complaining about this minor mess? Because I realize it is a parable, or perhaps a metaphor, for all of us. Years ago I read an essay by Robert Fulgham which distinguished a problem from an inconvenience.  I know in my mind that this rash is an inconvenience.   But my emotions are making it a problem. I am letting the physical inconvenience get under my emotional skin and that is where it turns into a problem.

It might be good for all us to reflect on what is it that gets under our skin and changes our perception of what is a problem.  Small annoyances suddenly become large concerns. Pesky comments turn into insults when uttered unthinkingly by the wrong person.

When I pay the wrong kind of attention to my irritation it is like scratching my rash – it helps spread and increase in ferocity. Letting the irritation get under my skin and escalate does not change anything other than me.  I need the salve of calm, and reflection. perhaps even the  power of forgiveness (which is a really gift to me not to the other).

I have found that I can intentionally make the decision not to scratch the irritation of the poison ivy – because I know it makes it worse. It is very hard to make that decision – scratching is so much more inviting. But it is possible and has beeter long term results.. When I resist I lessen the irritation I end up feeling. The same is true for gaining the discipline of reining in other irritation before they become mountains rather than just inconvenient mole hills.  Use the salves, the balms, the prescriptions, of our faith on those things that get under our skin and we will be healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually.


About don

The Rev Don Hill is an Episcopal priest, rail fan and writer. He and his wife the Rev. Dr. Nancy Woodworth-Hill are currently Co-Pastors of St Paul's Episcopal Church, Jeffersonville IN, in the Diocese of Indianapolis. They also work as parish consultants in Appreciative Inquiry, strategic planning and spirituality development for parishes and vestries.
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