Uncommon Lessons from a Common Cold

What you can learn from being home sick a couple of days.

Posted in , Jan 18, 2017

Lessons from a common cold

Seems like poetic justice to get a cold in the middle of winter. It’s cold and drizzly outside so why shouldn’t your own body develop the sniffles or a wheezing cough that sounds like the wind whistling through the bare branches? 

All last week I was fighting a cold until I decided to take a new approach. Instead of fighting it, I’d just give in. Wave a flag of surrender. “Cold, you’ve got me,” I could say. Nothing to do but to snuggle up to the box of tissues and huddle over a mug of hot tea with lemon and honey.

Is it possible that a cold, a nasty, dastardly cold in January can offer a few spiritual lessons? As I heaped a pile of blankets over me, I had to consider them.


Taking a couple of days out of the office is not the end of the world. In fact, it's a blessing Guideposts allows me opportunities to work from home or take sick leave when I need to, and–wonder of wonders–I could discover that the world functions just fine without me. At least for a few days. Maybe the common cold is a way of reminding my ego that I’m not so uncommon after all.

Is it possible that being sick for a few days reminds you of how precious good health is? Even though I had a cold, I also felt grateful. Grateful for the chicken soup a neighbor brought me, grateful for the cough medicine I swallowed, grateful for the good health I’m usually blessed with.

“Rest” came the advice of colleagues. Rest means trusting in the body to heal, trusting in God to do His work in His time. Rest means working in tandem with the divine, not rushing it.

There is a bond in ill health. Any time I mentioned in an email that I was down for the count I would usually hear about someone else who had the same thing or worse. “There’s something nasty going around,” people said. At least I felt a lot of compassion for those who were suffering. I knew what it was like.

Finally, I got well. And that’s the best lesson of all. That yucky-ness isn’t forever, that suffering isn’t a constant state. There was something wonderful about noticing that two or three hours went by without a cough…without even a sniffle. Good health does feel like a miracle. I thank God for it. 

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