There are lots of minor injuries or parts of us that can get worn out, and can be really painful, and this can wear you down! I’ve found this out the hard way over the last year or so. Thanks to walking so much in not-very-supportive shoes, I got wicked plantar fasciitis. I never realised how awfully painful it is. Many times, we don’t really understand what people are going through; it can be so hard to put ourselves in their shoes, as it were, unless we have had a similar experience. I’ve also had shoulder pain, over the last year or so, and have a sore right shoulder at the moment, thanks to a rotator cuff injury. These sorts of “minor” injuries just wear you down. Pain is so subjective, and we can’t ever judge another person’s experience of pain.
When you have a major injury — for example, a broken leg, and you get a cast — it is obvious and clear to everyone who sees you. You have a major injury and it hurts. When we have a major (or minor) injury or ailment that causes pain that isn’t as visible, people don’t have a visual indication of the pain. Back pain is a good example of this, as is abdominal pain. People can be plagued with such pain, but no one can “see it”, so it’s hard to really accept how much pain a person can be in just by looking at them.
Our bodies are perfectly made, yet imperfectly put together — think of your back and how amazing it is that it gives you so much movement, while protecting your precious spinal cord at the same time. It is pretty extraordinary how much flexibility you have — moving forwards, backwards and side-to-side. Yet, if you push it or stretch it too far, for example, in a car accident, you can lose the control of your legs. Scary thought. We all take for granted our health and well-being when we have it, but you sure notice it quickly when you have pain or a loss of function. It serves to remind us how sacred our bodily health is.
Think about any pain you have had and how bad it was. Now think about the crucifixion. Have you ever thought just how excruciatingly painful that must have been? Nails, hammered in to not just one, but two hands. Your arms hanging from wood in a seriously uncomfortable position, your weight making your wounds worse. The excruciating pain of having two feet nailed together, bones broken and flesh torn. The pain of the crucifixion would have been extraordinary. Put together with the exhaustion of carrying a heavy wooden cross up a steep hill, with a crown of thorns pushed in your head after having been scourged at the pillar . . . I have often wondered how Jesus survived as long as he did on the cross.
When any part of the body isn’t working well, we take it as sign of needing healing, rest and recovery to build ourselves back up, making use of things like physiotherapy, for example. This has had me reflect on the times when our spiritual life isn’t doing so well; maybe we are hurt, rejected; maybe we have sinned, and we have turned away from God. This is a sign we need spiritual help, healing, and shows we need to heal and rebuild our relationships with God. Prayer is the cornerstone of this. The Eucharist is another cornerstone in our Catholic faith. Confession is freely available to us, and is a sacrament that we don’t use enough. Jesus is always waiting to welcome us when we turn back towards him.
Revelation 21:4; “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Helen Luxford is a physician, working part-time. She is a parishioner of St Michael’s, Remuera. Together with her husband Michael, they are raising their children in the Catholic Faith and reflecting on the challenges and joys that brings.