You know what’s awesome? Germs.
You know what’s a lie? That thing I just said about germs.
Germs are not awesome.
I had a chance to remember that recently, when we had five (out of six!) sick kids and two (out of two!) sick adults in this household.
Being sick and getting better always takes longer than I expect.
In the beginning, of course, I’m all tenderness.
Oh dear, we’re sick. A box of tissues for everyone, pots of tea and honey, nap time!
But after a few days, the not-well-ness stops seeming sensible. If we aren’t feverish and pathetic anymore, why do the sniffling and the coughing and the tired and the crankiness have to go on and on and ON?
Every morning I would wake up thinking: Really? This again?
I would like to be healthy or sick, with none of the in-between, in-process stuff.
And really I would like to only be healthy. I don’t have time and patience for the getting better part.
I would like to skip the whole “making progress” thing.
I don’t especially want to dwell in the in-between places, the ones that come after the beginning and before the reward.
I think we call that place “work.”
I would not mind skipping straight from meeting a germ to being well; straight from noticing a problem to fixing all the things; straight from having an idea to having a finished project.
But no, life is lived in the practice stage.
Every day, practice. Every day, in between one thing and another. It’s hard work, making progress. It’s hard work, and we’re all doing it, every day.
We’re always circling back, always coming around again, always mending or healing or growing or building. It takes longer than I expect and you’d think I’d have picked up on that by now.
I forget, because I forget everything. But then I circle around again and I remember.
Everyone is on the mend from something.
Everyone is in one of those stretching, growing, in-between stages, almost always. Everyone needs extra kindness, pretty much all the time. Even me, even you.
We can surrender to the process, and we can do the next right thing, even if the next thing is to rest or to practice or just to wait. We can remember to give more grace.
And when we meet each other on the street, we can remember for each other, too.
You’re in an in-between place, and I’m on the mend, and we can look on each other the same way that we look on our kids or our neighbors or our best dear friends when they are in the middle of a great big something. We look on them with kindness and hope and anticipation.
(Not the way you might accidentally look when your kids are supposed to be in bed asleep but are instead asking for eight million drinks of water. Try not to look at anyone like that.)
The person in front of you is right in the middle of something and it may take awhile to get to the other side, but you understand, and you’re rooting for them.
Becoming, being, breathing: this is hard work, and it takes longer than you’d think.
Try not to focus on the inconvenience and the disruption of it all. Dwell on the thank-goodness-this-beautiful-human-is-moving-toward-wholeness-and-flourishing part instead.
Even when the human is you. (Especially when the human is you.)
Maybe brew another pot of tea in the meantime.