The gift of infection

O Lord my God
you have seen fit to send to me once more
an infection in the root of my tooth.
I thank you for your gift
and for the invasive root canal filling procedure
which I face next Friday.

Help me to accept this infection
and to take it deep into my being
so that I absorb your message
and the balance of who I am
shifts in your direction.

Help me pass on this infection
in the form of deep joy in your presence
and skilful words in this and every moment
knowing that what I do not share
will turn bad and harm us all.

Let me be grateful for my life in all its forms.
Let me be profligate with my love.
Let me infect those around me with my joy.


Thich Nhat Hanh recommends that we express gratitude each day that is a ‘non-toothache day’. When I have a toothache I plan to do this, but when I don’t have one I forget… Faced with yet more tooth trouble, I started off with a somewhat ironic remark to a traditional deity figure. But then it gets more serious – and more interesting. We’re in the Zen territory here of appreciation for all aspects of life, trying to maintain an equanimity to all events, not craving some (‘good’ ones), and avoiding others (‘bad’ ones). From this perspective we may be able to see the value and pattern of ‘infection’ and how we can impact on our own deeper health, and that of others.

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