The Small Black Speck

Posted by Censor Librorum on Aug 6, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

I have been in four weeks of unremitting pain. Pain that commences for no apparent reason, that waxes and wanes but never leaves completely, always brings me back to the moment that black speck appeared on the horizon.

The small black speck that blotted out my sky was a lyme tick that bit me at my house in Pennsylvania in spring 2000. It started as a stiff neck and terrible headache on a flight to Phoenix from New York. I ended up so sick I had to cut short a visit to Tucson, and catch the first flight home. When I am deathly ill, I want to be home. I thought I had relapsed from another chronic illness, but when the symptoms worsened my CFS doctor, Sue Levine, tested me for Lyme disease. The test came back positive. The illness left me marked. I limp when I’m tired.

Last summer, the symptoms came back full force. I did not test positive for Lyme again, but I did for babesiosis, another tick borne illness. As careful as I was, I probably picked up a tick getting my kayak up or off the rack at the marina near Hallock’s Bay.

I am weaker–and easier prey for a predator, even a tiny speck of one. It certainly challenges my notion of myself as strong, a predator; if a little tiny speck is ready to cull me out of the human herd. Perhaps that is the inner work this illness is calling me to do–to respect, accept, reconcile, be at peace with, a self and notion of self that is weaker and crippling. But I struggle against that kind of peace–at war with my illnesses and pain, trying to outmatch them in strength and cunning.

Many people have prayed for me to be well, to get better, and to feel better. I truly believe all the prayers from family, friends and others have made a difference. I pray very little, since I don’t think my prayers will be answered. I have heard God gives us what we need, not what we ask for. When I pray for something, I want it–not something else. If I am awake in the middle of the night, I do say the mantra my spiritual director in Tucson taught to me over and over to fall asleep. “Maranatha, Lord, come. Maranatha, Lord, come…” It does bring me to sleep, and with sleep I do not feel pain. This mantra comes from the meditation practice of John Main, O.S.B.

Is that bite the work of the Lord? A little black speck, sucking my blood and sending back spirochetes of pain and humiliation, forcing me, spitting, cursing and weeping inside, toward prayer?

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2 Responses to “The Small Black Speck”

  1. Jordan Says:


    I have chronic neuropathy from a spinal cord injury. I see a neurologist for this. And take medication

    But I also do Mindfulness Meditation which Jon Kabat Zinn brought to people with chronic pain and other medical issues. It’s very helpful and brings me peace-sometimes.

    His work is available on Amazon.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thank you for your suggestions, Jordan. I am sorry to hear about your injury. Karen

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