Saturday, June 23, 2012

Struggling again…

In the autumn, I wrote about some of the struggles I’d been having on high doses of steroids (for sarcoidosis) and of my hopes for some respite from the side-effects on a reduced dose. Having done quite well on a holding dose for six months, I began, three weeks ago I think, on my consultant’s advice, finally to taper off the dose altogether. I had not anticipated where this would lead…

Being on corticosteroids for a relatively long period causes the adrenal glands effectively to shut down; tapering off the dose puts one into a condition of adrenal insufficiency, the idea being that the adrenal glands will wake up to the fact that no-one is doing their work for them any more, and they had better get it together and start work again. This does not feel good for the unfortunate owner of the said glands, at all. The fatigue, aches and pains, hypoglycaemia and erratic blood pressure are bearable enough I suppose, but the psychological symptoms are a problem. Depression with teeth might be a good description. It certainly does not help creative work, blogging included.

Oddly enough, though, somewhere inside here the work goes on. God is good, always. Prayer is not only possible, but nourishing and healing in a way I find impossible to convey properly in words. And reading Cynthia Bourgeault, though very slow indeed (I can only read a few pages at a time, before they blur into visual noise and/or I fall asleep) is an adventure I wish I could do justice to here. I really do look forward to thinking through with you people some of what she has to say about apophatic vs. cataphatic prayer—and why I disagree with her about the Jesus Prayer. Pray for me for a gap in the fog so I can do just that.

Maybe simply having got this off my chest here will help, much as I hate being personal like this in public. If you are going through anything like this yourself, know this: God does not turn away. He’s in this with you, if only you will surrender sufficiently to hear his voice, feel his touch. Don’t stop praying, even when it feels pointless, barren. People sometimes say, “I can’t pray, though…” Of course you can. Anyone can repeat the words of the Jesus Prayer, or the Latin Rosary. It may not feel like it’s doing the slightest good, but that’s not the point. God is still there. He knows. Jesus promised that no-one and nothing can snatch us out of his hand (John 10.27-30). He knew abandonment and despair, because he emptied himself and became like us. But he rose in glory from the worst that could possibly happen to him, and his pierced hands are still open to each of us even now…

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner…


  1. I think of you whenever I whisper the Jesus prayer (which isn't very often, but I think of you when I do it ;)

    It IS hard to feel God in the midst of health issues. Adrenal insufficiency, which I struggled with a year and just feel like I'm getting respite from, is like, wow, wipeout, isn't it? For me it felt like I was thrown back into that limbic state, like I was a Neanderthal, jumping at shadows.

    Withania (ashwaghanda) has been fantastic for me in getting my adrenals back on track. It's an adaptogen, so it sees what the adrenals need either way and gives it to them (very smart!)

    May the fog clear, Mike. Thinking of you and praying for you.

  2. With you in prayer, Mike. Beautiful reflection on prayer, Thank you. I would love to read what you have to say about apophatic vs cataphatic prayer.


  3. Peace, Mike.
    Thank you for sharing this reflection, and something of your own life. That is where it all hits the road, after all.

  4. God bless you Mike. Really appreciate the post considering your current situation.

  5. Thank you, all of you. Your prayers and your understanding are so very much appreciated, as are those of those of you who have read this, and not needed to leave a comment. God bless you, all of you, truly...