landscapes but in having new eyes’ (Marcel Proust)
I’ve just returned to work after a period of longterm sick leave. Illness often sets us off thinking about questions such as:
What happens if I can’t go back to work?
At the heart of it is a need to connect on some level to something meaningful, which obviously for those bed-ridden and suffering from longterm illness isn’t always easy to do physically.
An ill person is embodied in a semi-functioning physicality. And what this does is to highlight both the importance of the body and its insignificance:
- Important because through illness we suddenly feel let down by our bodies, we realize how much we rely on them functioning efficiently to get us to work, to maintain relationships, to do meaningful things with our spare time.
- Yet insignificant because a really chronic or severe illness can show us just how it is possible to survive and exist meaningfully outside the confines of that body which is letting us down.
So the body might be a site for ‘triggers’ which propel us into a search for meaning beyond our embodied selves. And this is often where a spiritual journey begins. This trigger may be in the form of illness, but it can also come from suffering abuse, a mid-life crisis, or it may even come in less earthly forms such as an encounter with an angel or a spirit guide.
What triggered your spiritual journey…?