Image: A woman walks through a greenhouse full of cacti. (Pixabay)
An op-ed appeared in the New York Times a while back. The piece, In My Chronic Illness, I Found a Deeper Meaning, is so good that I would be quite happy for you to stop reading now and go read it – even if you don’t read another word I have to say about it.
Rabbi Elliot Kukla describes the significant challenges of living with chronic illness. He writes about the problems of credibility every one of us with chronic illness face: it’s “in our heads” we are “making it up” we are “dramatic” and/or “lazy” and/or just plain “crazy.” You can hear all about that if you go onto Twitter and search for terms like “chronic illness” or “disability.”
He describes the horror of being a number, of having one’s troubles become “a monetized affair.” The article would be valuable simply because he articulates all of this so well.
What’s different about this article is that Rabbi Kukla doesn’t stop with an eloquent description of the situation. He keeps moving towards meaning. “We are born needing care, and die needing care, and I am no exception.” Independence is in fact a delusion: we are all interdependent.
He maps a terrain that we will all travel someday, even the most fit and healthy among us. The take-away, though, is something that I think we all need right now: a reminder of the worth of every person.
In a time when human beings are treated as bargaining chips, when a small, wealthy part of humanity seems to care absolutely nothing for the rest, when it is so tempting to star in our own dramas and get lost in our private pain, this article takes the larger view. Go read it.
2 thoughts on “Rabbinic Insight from Chronic Illness”
How foreign that concept of being born needing care and getting older needing care seems to be from modern Western thinking. To look at everyone around us — and then ourselves — as needing care would transform our very way of living.
And yet it is so utterly rooted in reality! It could transform everything if we were brave enough to embrace it.