My latest in the Christian Courier…
It is good to celebrate our embodied life in God’s creation.
The men (they are mostly men) arrive at the clinic and take their seats in the waiting room. It’s a nondescript medical office with a busy receptionist, examination rooms and various types of medical equipment. This clinic is unique, however, because the patients all arrive with a black nylon bag over their shoulders. Some of them look like lunch boxes while others could easily be laptop bags. It reminds me of something out of a Mysterious Benedict Society novel. Are these the nefarious Ten Men bringing their disguised, deadly devices for retooling, all the better to threaten adventurous children!? Alas, the reality isn’t so interesting. These patients are being treated for sleep apnea and are bringing their CPAP machines to their consults with a respiratory therapist. They are fantastic gizmos, no doubt, but wouldn’t make an appearance in children’s literature.
Maybe it’s only my perception or projection, but I sense an eye-averting awkwardness among patients. Would that be unusual? We humans are awkward about our bodies at the best of times. More so, perhaps, when the apparatus carried, surreptitiously, is all tubes and headgear and mask. It’s not the kind of thing you’d be keen to acknowledge in just anyone’s presence.
A medical device you wear on your face, and to bed, gets very close to the most private dimensions of our lives. It’s also about your breath, and what is more intimate? And contrary to the impulses of contemporary culture, public sharing of the private isn’t always meaningfully therapeutic. Sometimes it’s worth keeping private things, well, private.Continue reading