As I write this I'm sitting with a sore foot elevated on a chair, thanks to a fluke-y accident yesterday at Fellow Traveler's house. We were watching college basketball on TV -- I sitting on one foot on the sofa, as is my custom -- when I got up to let a pet in or out; I can't remember which; and tripped over my numb foot, stubbing my big toe hard...seeing-stars hard. It was such a stupid thing; one moment I was limping along on my fallen-asleep limb, the next I was doubled over in pain. My toe swelled up, and FT wanted to drive me to the ER...but I wimped out. Remembering my time in the ER with my mother last year, and also remembering a couple of supremely frustrating trips to the local hospital for my own minor medical emergencies -- I just didn't want to spend aggravating, molasses-slow hours there on a weekend afternoon. There were hopeful signs that my toe wasn't as crunched as I thought -- no fractured bones piercing skin; no discoloration; ability to wiggle my digit a little. So we went the elevation and hour-on, hour-off ice-pack route until the swelling went down. I jury-rigged a pillow-platform for my foot in bed and was able to get a few hours of sleep.
And now today I've been largely sedentary, my foot propped on sofa cushions on a kitchen chair while I blog. I was joking to FT (who has been regaled by my farm-girl stoicism regarding such injuries, and who still thinks I should get my foot X-rayed) that now I'm going to have a rheumatic "weather toe" that'll ache whenever the barometric pressure drops. But between the very real fears surrounding my GYN exam last week, the relatively minor annoyance of this mishap and a bandage-swathed finger accidently sliced while making chili for a charity cook-off that wound up being cancelled by our recent blizzard -- the fact of my embodied, mortal existence has been hitting home recently. I'm reminded of Annie Dillard's observation, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, that the natural world is so often chewed -- chunks bitten off; holes gnawed in; broken; frayed. That's me, all right.
Last week's Gospel lesson found Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. And to me, each of his temptations represented an escape from participating in our common humanity; an end run around enfleshed reality. Never be uncomfortable or in want. Defy the laws of nature. Insulate yourself from the rest of humanity with power and wealth. And each time, Jesus said, No. Jesus chose the route of solidarity with the rest of us -- as flawed, as subject to misfortune, as chewed and frayed and stubbed as we are.