By a thread...

I've found that physically challenging times bring me closest to the "spiritual" -- not simply because they trigger "God, I want the pain to end" moments, but because they're a tangible, inescapable reminder of just how fragile and fleeting our lives in "earthen vessels" are.

Jonathan Edwards wrote in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" of dangling over the fires of hell like a spider on a thread. But we all dangle just as precariously over a life after stroke, aneurysm, ruptured disc, cancer diagnosis, or hundreds of other challenges.

I remember visiting the Body Worlds exhibit with a doctor friend of mine (who eagerly brought along his anatomy textbook for reference). It was in 2006, during a sciatica flare-up, so my ears perked up at a woman and her 30-something daughter examining a skeleton with spinal nerves suspended in air, intact. "Right there, that's the disc that's causing it" they said, marveling at the interwoven strings of nerve fibers. They were clearly discussing the same problem that I had... And it was amazing that a tiny bulge agains an even tinier nerve could affect an entire body (and mind).

So if you're out there enjoying good health right now, thank God for it (your choice; ask me for recommendations if you're searching) and then pray that you can openly receive the insights you need without getting a wake-up call of fear and pain to make you listen.

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