The doctor had given orders to check her temperature at regular half-hour intervals. Whether he ordered it or not, it was common procedures on this ward. Her temperature had steadily risen since she arrived at the hospital. Sharp pains above her stomach brought her in, but at this point her temperature was the gauge by which they were monitoring her status.
The thermometer reads 102.3°. It was on the way down now. She was at 104°a couple hours ago. She was resting and they were keeping her hydrated. The sweat was beading up on her forehead; her hospital gown was drenched. The orders now were to make her comfortable. The worst was over. Soon her temperature would be back to normal and she would be awake enough to hear the diagnosis and prognosis from the medical staff.
The body is amazing. It knows when things are not right. When there is an infection in the body, the brain tells the system to heat up to kill off certain bacteria and viruses that are sensitive to temperature change. Drugs such as aspirin will reduce fever, but some in the medical community argue that temperature should not be lowered because it is the body protecting itself. On the other hand, people sometimes die from fever. It’s a delicate balance, but more often than not, medical professionals will opt to lower the temperature and treat infection without the use of the internal fire.
The internal fire is natural. It raises our temperature to protect us. It is extremely uncomfortable. In a relationship that fire might be a period of time-away: a separation. It’s not pleasant, it hurts, but it gives a chance for contemplation, thought and evaluation. When struggling with finances, the internal fire might be the one that burns credit cards and causes a more ridged discipline. It’s uncomfortable and perhaps socially embarrassing, but it’s means of survival. With an illness, the internal fire can be a period of intensive treatment, one which may render other parts of the body hurting and bruised, nevertheless, it’s that uncomfortable period that will open the way to a healing.
On this fifth day of this Lenten Journey, we’re called to find the balance between the fever and the fever reducer. The illness and disease that take a hold of our bodies and our emotions set off natural triggers in our life – and those make us uncomfortable. Can you think of some of the things that make you uncomfortable? Beyond the physical discomforts there are social and psychological discomforts. Don’t be afraid of these. They are only natural conditions that we must pass through on the road to healing. Remember, even the fever, with the sweat and discomfort, is a natural condition that is a necessary step of ridding the body of disease.
As we become aware of our conditions and our needs, I share with you this prayer by St. Nersess Shnorhali. Be attentive to the nature of the fire and its necessity in the healing process. Spend some time repeating the prayer and meditating on the fire and fires in your life. Yes, there is discomfort even in the strongest of all fire, love.
O Christ, who are the Living Fire, inflame my soul with the fire of Your love, which You did send forth upon the earth, that it may burn the stains of my soul, sanctify my conscience, purge the sins of my body, and kindle in my heart the light of Your knowledge. Have mercy upon Your Creatures and upon me, a great sinner. Amen.
I look forward to continuing the Road to Healing with you tomorrow. Don’t be scared and stay on course. Until then, this is Fr. Vazken sharing the message of the Living Fire with you.
Photo: Yerevan Church (c) 2009 Fr. Vazken Movsesian