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Urs Graf: The Healing of the Man with Dropsy (1511-15)

"We could not have experienced healing had we not first caught that terrible cold."

It feels like a miracle occurred overnight. I wake refreshed for a change, perhaps for the first time. I'd forgotten the effortlessly breathing sensation of merely being without the burden of anything intruding. Molly, so recently still a feral cat, has taken to cuddling in close on these cold nights, creating a crease of warmth between her and The Muse's comforter-covered leg. She welcomes me now as I reach to stroke her reclining body, ears to tail in the predawn darkness. She purrs like the kitten I long ago predicted she would eventually become under my tireless tutelage. She might one day soon even consent to sit on my lap. Then, her transformation into a kitten will be completed, and contentment will reign. I fear that she will never again be capable of reverting into her feral self, which means that I might not need to be nearly so wary but also that she will have finally forfeited her birthright fierceness. However close we might seem in these early mornings, she will always remain a killer inside.

I wish the world peace this morning.
Why complicate anything that should be simple? The receding cold comes to remind me to count even my infinitesimal blessings. There's always something. Even when my head felt weighted with lead, and my ears rang, I held the promise of one day returning to feeling WellAgain. If for no other reason, that cold seems like a blessing now that it's leaving. How else could I have come to appreciate its absence if it hadn't first intruded? Spring's arrival couldn't have been enough to garner anything approaching a full appreciation without a few days spent wallowing first. The bug stole my appetite so that I became indifferent to supper. I'd trundle off to bed, grateful to have missed the usual fuss and bother of even considering a meal. Hunger might return around noon the following day if I recognized it through the virus' numbing haze.

I'm definitely better today, well enough to relish resuming my usual seasonal activities of daily living. I slipped out around sunset yesterday evening to finally make some progress refurbishing my now-ancient turning fork just in time for Spring. My apricot desperately wants pruning, and I’d used my cold to excuse myself from that effort, always undertaken with reverent hesitation. I have grass seed to sow, so the lawn edges along the new sidewalk might finally fit properly. A few days spent shaping now should make all the difference come August. I dare not defer this sacred responsibility.

I had grown Wintertime complacent, more than a little bored with my daily routines, almost disgusted with them. I had grown impatient without offering myself any reasonable replacements. I'd disciplined myself into compliance and fulfilled my self-imposed expectations without feeling renewed or reassured by my efforts. Three months of fog can leave anyone feeling fuzzy, marking time, and impatient. The cold came just in time. I might have continued that sorry pattern until after Easter had that virus not disrupted my dysfunction, where well had become indistinguishable from ill. In the old days, back when I was still smoking, I used to come down with awful bronchitis around the end of every January. That bug would lay me low and almost convince me to stop smoking. I'd spend a few days sweating and regretting before finally recovering and returning to my usual backsliding. That illness came as regularly as Christmas and always seemed to leave me a few presents. My schedule, which was always otherwise uninterruptible, got disrupted, and the world seemed much better for the resulting distraction.

Some of life's best and most essential elements come from such disruptions. I would not want a world free from misfortune because setbacks seem necessary to support liberty. Fifteen years ago this week, The Muse and I were destitute, less than a month away from moving into barrels. That winter had been long and discontented until The Muse got a lead on possible employment. A month later, we disappeared from this valley they liked so well that they named it twice to enter an exile that would utterly transform us for the better. We would return twelve long dog years later, WellAgain, perhaps even better than when we'd fled amid so very much confusion and terror. We had no way of knowing then if we would ever recover, if we could ever become WellAgain. We could not have experienced that sublime healing sensation had we not first caught that terrible cold.

©2024 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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