I’m a mess. Physically speaking, I’m a twisted, deformed, atrophied mess. Looking at the severe scoliosis in my own x-ray – the Z shaped spine, near horizontal in the thorax and rotated so that the spinal cord is on the side – even I’m a bit shocked. I look at that and I say, “How does that not hurt?” And I think, “How am I alive?”
Never having walked, I can’t say that I miss the ability – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want it. Still, it’s the progressive collapsing and weakening of my body that is the worst; the yearly losses of strength and abilities – brushing my teeth, feeding myself, breathing without labor… these are the hardest to bear. – Hard to bear. That’s an understatement. The difficulties, disappointments, deteriorations… I get madly frustrated at times, and I sorrow deeply – but I don’t despair. I pine and I grieve – but I’m not depressed. Why not? Why not?! … Because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
To be alive… it is the gift divine, profound and unfathomably, terribly beautiful. I need not exist at all… but I do. Intimately loved into being by the Infinitely Beautiful One am I. To be alive… this is the rarest of gifts, for there is only one me, and I am me. There is not, and never will be, another me in all the vast and mighty stretches of the universe, the millions of galaxies, the multitude of universes that may exist or come into existence. Just one. Just me. Exquisitely unique. Here I am.
I don’t know why some people wish that they had never been born. I don’t what that’s like. Maybe I haven’t experienced enough pain in my life. I know that there are 1 million and 1 ways to suffer in this world ( – make that 7,267,864,001… and counting). No one else’s sufferings are mine. No one else’s joys are mine. My sufferings and my joys are my own. I live them, singularly unique to me. And I am alive. I am alive.
I am alive!
Do you hear that? Do you feel that?
Do you know that?
I am alive. Here I am. Fearfully and wonderfully made. Let everyone be struck with fear. The whole world trembles and the heavens exalt… because I am. Messy. Real. Present. Alive.
© 2014 Christina Chase
 Psalm 139:14
 inspired by a letter of St. Francis of Assisi to his Order; see http://www.franciscanmissionaries.com/article/the-identity-of-st-francis/