Suffering….on a silver platter please!

Princess_and_the_Pea_by_nataliesmillieI am lying propped up in bed, surrounded by furniture, paintings, curtains and other assorted items which my husband carted from other places in the house into our bedroom this morning. On the other side of my door, I can hear the painters working. The paint fumes have been overwhelming for the past week. So, on this cold rainy day, I have all of the windows open in my bedroom, and a towel stuffed around the opening at the bottom of the door.

My night stand is covered with medicine bottles and “home remedies” to help combat this miserable condition of shingles with which I was diagnosed on Sunday.

As I lie here, it is hard not to think, “But Lord, why this week? If only the painters weren’t here, I could be making pots of herbal tea and eating healthier food than the stash of protein bars in my purse. If only there weren’t paint fumes everywhere, perhaps I would not have these horrible headaches in addition to the shingles’ pain.

My Jesus, surely You know that lots of rest and freedom from stress are essential for recovering from this illness. But everything about my situation is so stressful. My doctor’s office hasn’t even returned the call I made yesterday. I may have to sleep in another bedroom tonight because the painters will want to get in here tomorrow…into my little sanctuary.  How inconvenient that will be!  Oh, woe is me!

I’m tired Lord. I can’t sleep with the pain, and strangers arrive at 8 am every morning. All of my warm socks are in the dresser which is now encased in plastic so paint won’t drip on it. So are my warm pajamas. The temperature has been in the 70’s, but is now in the 30’s. Lord, what were You thinking?

You see, it’s one thing to be sick; that’s quite a sacrifice, You know? But I thought that I might at least be able to do it on my own terms…with satellite TV to entertain me, and my house all nice and neat, the fridge stocked with my favorite foods and maybe a fire blazing in the fireplace. And oh yes, certainly no paint fumes. You do remember those migraines I’m so prone to? I really had a plan Lord. Weren’t You paying attention? This isn’t the way it was supposed to be.

Now, I am very pleased that You have been sending my husband in with a steaming mug of tea each morning, and that he checks on me periodically and that He just brought me a cold Coke and a fresh ice pack. That’s good Lord.  That’s more of what I had in mind, if I am to suffer well.  But, I still think You should consider my other suggestions above.

You see, I know how I suffer best….surrounded by as many comforts as possible.  I’d like my blue flannel PJ’s….if they weren’t in that inaccessible dresser.  And, oh, my new cozy socks….if only the washing machine was re-connected.

I love You Lord, and I want to suffer well for You.  I really don’t like having to complain about all of these things that aren’t to my liking.

Well, thanks for listening, Jesus.  I think I’ll take a nap now….after I check my text messages and make sure my iPod is charged.  Yes, all of this suffering has worn me out. I know You understand.

Okay, so hopefully everyone will know that most of the above was written tongue-in-cheek….sort of.  I really am sick, and confined to my bedroom away from the painters..but unfortunately, not the fumes.

Everything is a wreck around here, as need be for the job to get done.  And, although I haven’t been quite the protesting “princess” in the version above, I have indeed said more than once, “Why did I have to get so sick just when the painters were scheduled to start?”   (As if I wouldn’t have minded at all had it been another time!)

Isn’t it so true that suffering on our own terms isn’t quite so bad?  We can even imagine that our halo (if we had one!) might be glowing a bit more brightly.  Everything is so much easier when we are at least somewhat in control.  There can be quite a bit of pride in that.

Last week, when I kept having one mishap after the other, I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to keep a sense of humor about it all.  I felt very much in control…not even the pain of a severe earache could vanquish me.  I put on a brave smile.

But when I saw the first sign of shingles on my face Sunday, I thought the Lord was perhaps asking a bit too much. I already had stitches in my finger and cotton in my throbbing ear.  An ugly, painful, protracted illness like shingles wasn’t in my plan....especially on my face.  Ah… vanity.

It is at times like this when I turn to the crucifix for strength.  When everything is out of my control, and a particular cross seems too much for me,  I look at Him. There is nothing I have ever endured in my life,  that I haven’t found in the sufferings of Jesus.

Looking at the raw, red, swollen quadrant of my face, I picture the face of Jesus after He was struck by His torturers..  I can still see His disfigured countenance as depicted in The Passion of the Christ. The pain I am experiencing often feels like a  thousand needles piercing my scalp all at once.  But He wore a crown of thorns, pressed into His flesh until His Precious Blood flowed into His eyes and down His face.   And although I am confined to a room, He was nailed to a Cross…how can I complain?  And my pain?  Well, I have pain medicine….and Jesus had none, and He even refused what little relief was offered to Him in the drugged wine…..for love of us.

My face is wounded, but His whole body was raw.  I cannot imagine how He endured so much pain.  Surely it was His Infinite Love for us which sustained Him…and that makes me cry, to realize how much He loves and how little His love is returned….by me.

At night, when I awaken in pain, I am immediately reminded (guardian angel?) to pray and offer my little sufferings for family and friends who are especially in need of prayer.  And, I am somehow comforted in doing so.  How good God is…no little effort goes unrewarded.

He Who shed every drop of His Blood for us, welcomes every little pittance we offer to Him.  How kind He is!  How magnanimous!  How compassionate!

Suffering is more tolerable when you know it has a purpose.  I am so grateful for the Church’s teaching on redemptive suffering, and so thankful that our Savior invites us to unite our sufferings to His, so that He can infuse them with merit…..turning them to gold, as it were, by His Grace.

Yes, it has been a difficult month thus far, and I would have planned it all differently, but His ways are so far above our own.  His plan is perfect….even the paint fumes.

And I just love what one of my favorite mystics, the anchoress, Julian of Norwich wrote:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”



20 thoughts on “Suffering….on a silver platter please!

  1. Patricia,

    Oh how I wish I could pop round with some comforts and a smile to relieve some of your suffering! But instead God has you holed up in your room with your computer so you can write and share your insights (and humour) with us! It is good to hear from you. I am praying for your recovery which I guess will happen in God’s time and not mine. (I like things to happen according to my time-table too!) In the meantime, I hope you can bear all the pain and discomfort. “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.” Yes! With love and prayers. I have been thinking of you so much, xx

    PS Did you notice I managed to write only one paragraph (plus this PS)???

    • Sue, I so wish you could “pop round” too! But you might run away in fright when you saw my face, which I have decided looks like someone threw a slice of pepperoni pizza at me, and it sort of stuck to the upper right side, and in my hair! My dear sister tried to visit Tuesday evening, but she stepped into the kitchen and immediately ran back into the garage. She was overcome by the paint fumes. She suffers from asthma, so she was particularly sensitive to them. We had a brief visit in the garage, but I was grateful that she made the effort. I don’t think she’ll be back until she’s sure our home is fume free.

      Meanwhile, your prayers are a great comfort, and I can see your smile 🙂 Thank you for caring so much! And…because I am not up to writing long comments at the moment, I forgive you for your succinct words….LOL. How did you manage it?

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I love that prayers are going up for me, clear on the other side of the world! You are praying for me when I am sleeping…well, maybe when I’m sleeping…. 🙂 Love you Sue. And a big hug to you from my “good side”!

  2. Well Patricia, I may not be able to put your sufferings on a silver platter for you but I can serve up some prayer for sure! Praying your physical condition improves soon as well as the condition of your house. I love that prayer from Julian of Norwich; I pray it often!
    Hugs and blessings!

    • Hi Karin…thank you so much for the best gift..your prayers. Much better than a silly silver platter. (I got stuff like that when we were married, and now it’s all tarnished and stashed in a closet….can’t remember the last time I used it.) The house is moving along, but I will be bounced out of my bedroom by Monday. They have this room and the den to do, and then they will be finished. YAY! They wanted to paint my bedroom door this morning, but I stood my ground. They can paint it when they do this room.

      I’ve been wanting to tell you that because the area in which I have the shingles is very close to my right eye, I was immediately referred to an opthamologist, whom I saw on Monday. Shingles can be very dangerous if it attacks your eyes..even causing vision lost. Well, of course, I turned to my new patron, St. Lucy, for her intercession, and thanks be to God, the doctor did not think my eye was in danger, although he gave me some steroid drops to help. I’m just so amazed at all the connections to St.Lucy, ever since you chose her for me….and I would never have thought of her in a million years. I love the Communion of Saints! Big hugs back to you Karin!

  3. Oh goodness! My supervisor has it now and she was describing how unbelievably painful it is…so I am so sorry!

    I loved your honest post. So true isn’t it…suffering on our own terms. Like my gastritis…diagnosed a week before Christmas when I am surrounded by good wine, Christmas cookies, dainty chocolates and everything else that wreaks havoc on my system. I have two anniversary parties coming up and I am not even looking forward to them since I can barely eat anything substantial. Now Lord?

    Ahhh…I will be lifting you in prayer my dear sister. I feel terrible and know that I would be 100 times worse in your situation!

    • Theresa, I didn’t know you had gastritis. I somehow got the idea that it was one of those pesky stomach viruses that was hanging on. But I do remember that you wrote about giving up your coffee…so I should have known it was something BIG 🙂 I’m so sorry you missed out on all those holiday goodies, and you look so petite that you probably can’t even appreciate losing a few pounds. No fun at all! Maybe when you are feeling better, you can whip up a batch of your cranberry-orange bread? And…I hear St.Paul recommends fine wine for tummy troubles 🙂

      God is so funny, isn’t He? He knows just how to show us what wimps we still are! He lets us think we are doing well accepting, for the most part, the suffering we are used to. But then he throws something unexpected our way, and oh, the wailing…from me, at least. But I thank Him for reminding me how far I have to go…… It’s a Grace to know that…and so humbling.

      Yes, this stuff hurts. Foe me, it seems to hurt worse at certain times of the day. I can almost set a clock by it. Ask your supervisor if she is taking L-lysine. It was recommended to me by a previous victim, as well as my consulting physician, The Internet MD LOL! Many thanks for your prayers, dear Theresa, and I will pray for your tummy troubles…hoping you can enjoy those parties afterall. xoxo

  4. Your tongue and cheek made me smile, a lot! Redemptive suffering…. I pray that I have the strength. Our Saviour and His suffering…I can’t imagine, though I think of it often.

    May the Good Lord be with you during your illness. May He bring you strength and comfort through those He sends your way.

    Shingles are nothing to take lightly and my prayers are with you.

    • Dear Lisa…thank you so much for your heartfelt prayers. I appreciate them so much, and know that your prayers, and those of my other friends are truly keeping me going. We all need each other, don’t we? Yes, the Sufferings of Jesus are impossible to comprehend…and even almost unbearable to think about sometimes. Ever since I saw The Passion of the Christ, I always dread the Second Sorrowful Mystery, the Scourging at the Pillar. I just cannot go there…remember the horror I saw in that movie when Our Lord suffered this horrendous torture. Yet, Our Lady was there…and can anyone imagine her pain!

      I’m so glad my “tongue in cheek” made you smile 🙂 I was hoping the first part of that post would not be taken seriously! I always find that humor can be a good remedy when problems become a bit overwhelming. I’m so happy you stopped by to visit, and so very grateful for your prayers, and your kindness in taking time to comment. Blessings and peace to you always!

  5. Oh Patricia, I have heard from others that they suffered nothing so painful as shingles. A friend told me she, too had it on her face and couldn’t even stand her bangs touching her forehead, it was that painful. Well my dear, you have convinced me to get the shingles vaccine. And I know exactly the kind of thoughts you are having. I can’t even tolerate a hangnail or a migraine and then I think of Jesus, who suffered simultaneously so many tortures at one time, all for love of us, and uttered not a word of complaint and had no one to console Him. Passion of Christ, strengthen us! Holy Hour for you this week my friend. Joyce

    • Joyce, it is so weird..the hair thing your friend mentioned. A few days before my rash broke out, I had washed my hair, and as I ran the comb through, my scalp felt so tender that I could barely touch it. It sort of gave me an electric shock feeling. I thought maybe it was nerve pain connected to my famous earache. But, once the rash broke out, I got lesions on my scalp…OUCH! And, when the pain is bad at night, it really feels like my hair is being pulled out by the roots..and that’s what I mean about it feeling like a thousand needles in the head. The other horrendous pain is when your face, in my case, is on fire. That usually wakes me from sleep. Strange disease, because the pain isn’t constant, for me at least. You don’t want anything touching the blisters, except cold packs or wet clothes.
      Please do think about getting the vaccine. My doctor offered it to me a year ago, but I said I would think about it. Too late for me…but not for you. I’ve researched it, and it sounds pretty benign…if anything like that we put into our bodies can be benign.

      Oh Joyce, a holy hour for me! I am thrilled! Thank you so much. I could not make my holy hours this past Tuesday because of being sick; missed it the week before because of needing stitches right before I was getting ready to leave for the chapel; not the Tuesday before that, because I had a migraine so bad that I couldn’t get off of the couch. So far, I have had no holy hours in 2013! I accept yours with much, much gratitude….big HUG!

      PS Joyce, so far my shingles haven’t hurt as much as a really severe migraine….so you are tougher than you think 🙂 Love you!

  6. Praying for you, whatever The Lord wills, that you will have the grace to continue to suffer while meditating on his and uniting yours to his for the good of other souls. You have a beautiful soul and a wise mind, Dear Patricia. If you lived closer you could stay here until the painters were done! I never paid much notice to those “Shingles Immunizations” signs before. Thousand needles? Maybe I should get the shot? Love, Colleen

    • Colleen..yes, get the shot! Better one needle than a thousand! I have been reading all about shingles, and it doesn’t just strike the AARP crowd..but even little kids have gotten it, and it’s not uncommon in young adults. You do have to have had chicken pox though, as that’s how you first get the mean little virus. Then it hangs out in our spine somewhere and if your immune systems isn’t up to snuff, and you get really stressed, it can surface as shingles.

      Thank you so much for your kind words. I haven’t been praying and meditating nearly as much as I should be during this time of isolation. Part of that is being surrounded by technology…no TV in here, but kindle, laptop, cell phone and iPod. So many distractions. The devil is clever. He doesn’t mind a bit if I listen to Catholic radio and read Catholic blogs….just don’t turn it all off and dwell in the silence with Jesus. And yes, I’m foolish…or weak enough to fall for it!

      So please pray that I put this time to better use. Big hugs to you, dear Colleen. You are in my prayers too. Have a lovely weekend!!xoxo

  7. I have been checking back in here daily for updates. I love the title of this post, and the picture! Thank you that, even as you are suffering, you are sending smiles out the world. Who knows who and how many you might be helping to endure their own trials?! I guarantee I would be (alas) woe-is-me-ing through it all. My prayers continue to be with you, my friend.

    • Nancy, isn’t the picture a riot? 🙂 I had so much fun picking out the most exasperated looking “princess.” I’ve always loved that fairy tale. Oh, you are so sweet…I can tell you that I am “sending smiles” to all of you who have been so kind to stop and leave words of encouragement, and promises of prayer. We have such a lovely little community here. Won’t it be fun if when we do get to Heaven someday, we find people from all over the world whom the Lord has permitted to be touched by something we dashed off on our blogs. He is so good and kind that I won’t even be surprised if it really does happen. And I predict a huge heavenly contingent of Cloistered Heart/Breadbox Letters followers 🙂 Thanks so much for your prayers, dear Nancy. Please keep them coming. Sure wish you were here, because it would be a perfect night to watch….our favorite movie TTWA! xoxoxox

  8. Lol! That picture! You “woe” quite well, Patricia 🙂

    On a more serious note, I know you must be in a great deal of pain and just wanted to tell you that I’m still praying. (You are brave because I’d probably be whimpering day and night to the Lord if I was in your shoes.)

    • Don’t you love it?! Who knew…there were dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds of “princess and the pea” images. But yep, she was woe-ing the most like me 🙂

      Thank you so much for your prayers. I know you’ve been following my trail of diagnoses and praying for me for over a week now. I am so very grateful…in spite of the scowl in my picture. 😉

      And Mary, I can just imagine if you were in my place…all the hilarious blog posts we’d be treated to, and all the jokes you’d be cracking in your comments. But, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone…and certainly not you! Please consider getting the vaccine..wish I had.

      Love you, Mary! You always make me smile. xoxoxo

  9. Dearest Patricia, I offer up my abcessed tooth for you tonight.
    Shingles is a horrible thing to suffer with!
    May Jesus release you from it quickly and may the painters be finished fast too!
    much love and blessings..Trish

    • Trish….I’ve missed you! I thought maybe you were on vacation, as your blogs have been pretty quiet.

      Thank you so much for offering up your pain for me! That is incredibly generous! You are so kind. I will pray for you in adoration tomorrow…for your tooth. Please let me know how you are doing, as I know how painful abcessed teeth can be. I hope it has been taken care of by now.

      I am much better since this weekend. The lovely blisters are drying up….so I’m not contagious anymore. I’m still pretty tired, but it might be all this extra work my husband and I have to do to keep emptying rooms for the painters. My poor husband is absolutely exhausted, and he can go for hours non-stop with hard work. But this has been going on for a couple of weeks now.

      We are hoping they will be done by Thursday. The weather is lovely now, and that helps so much..after a month of rain.

      My pain is much better…..thanks to everyone’s prayers, I’m sure. I feel very blessed considering the horror stories I have heard about other people’s experiences. As soon as I’m well enough, I”m going to get the vaccination, so hopefully I won’t get this again.

      Thank you so much for commenting….and for offering up that toothache. Hugs to you, my friend, and may you also be feeling much better soon.

      Love and blessings……..

  10. Patricia, I just got home and trying to get back on track. I was without internet for a few days, so I just kept praying for you until I could catch up.
    I really never knew about the pain of shingles until a dear nun in our parish came down with it and said what a terrible time she had.
    If it were’d have to add ten more mattresses….

    I’m so sorry for timing of it all and the painful migraines for which I continue to pray..I’m confident the Lord is going to show Himself to you in a very special way and you will have lessons for us to reap from it’s fruits.

    I’m asking the Great Physician, to be with you; body, mind, soul and spirit… Prayers for your husband too. It must be hard for him to see you go through this.

    Love you and hugs +

  11. Caroline, are you a princess too? 🙂 I loved the picture. As I told Mary, there were so many to choose from. I saw the painters today for the first time in a week. Meanwhile, they had witnessed my dear husband carrying mugs of hot tea and breakfast on a tray to me all last week. I’m sure they are convinced that I really am that “princess.” But no, I just have a very sweet husband….and thank you so much for thinking of praying for him. He has had so much to deal with around the house, and then me getting sick on top of everything else.

    Fortunately, all of the upstairs is completed now, so I moved up here last night and although everything is out of place and stashed all around, at least there is a sense of privacy, and fewer paint fumes.

    It really would be all quite funny in a way, if only I hadn’t gotten sick. But God is good, and I’m doing well….looking forward to adoration tomorrow. While there, I will surely thank Jesus for so many wonderful, caring friends whose prayers have been such a blessing.

    Thank you, Caroline! I love you…..and I smile every time I remember that you are going to be a grandma this year. I can’t imagine how excited you must be! I know I’d be delirious.
    Prayers for the boys, and the little one too! xoxox

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