"When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them…” (Exodus 15:3).
Carolyn was her mother's caregiver and now she is mine. As my neurological issues have worsened she has had to devote more time to home care and less to her own work and the women she loves so dearly.
But, as she reminded me this morning, caregiving now is her "vocation," in the original sense of that word—her call. For this season God has ask her to be a caregiver and she has accepted that call. Put another way, Carolyn cast a "tree" into the water and made it sweet.
What is that "tree" but the Cross, the tree on which we die to our own agenda and accept God's will for our lives. It is our imitation of Christ. "For he said to all, 'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it'" (Luke 23,24).
The Cross, of course, is at odds with everything our culture tells us about self-care, but acceptance of that cross, whatever it may be, is the key to peace and joy, what Jesus called “saving” oneself. In acceptance, each bitter experience becomes sweet.