lenten journal: allergies and anger


I have wrestled with allergies as long as I can remember.

I don’t remember a time in my life when I did not take antihistamines. I have seen a number of allergists over the years and most all of my encounters have ended up with me being dissatisfied and they being upset because I expected more of them.

Last month I started seeing a naturopath here in Guilford in hopes of finding another way to think about my allergies. Her name is Synthia Andrews. When we enlarge our vocabulary about anything we create possibilities. I needed some new words. New metaphors. And she has some.

I can’t say I understand all that she is doing, but I am learning from it, as well as finding some new possibilities. She uses a machine that is in the biofeedback family. It reads the frequencies in my body and spirit and then offers frequencies as invitations too healing. She attaches the sensors to my wrists and ankles and puts a small band around my head. I lay still for about fifteen minutes and then she starts giving me verbal feedback. Some of what she has to say relates to my physical body and some to my emotional and spiritual state. What continues to amaze me is how the two are connected.

Yesterday, one part of the treatment for my allergies involved the machine sending out the frequencies and then sending her words based on what it was reading in me. She said the words could be about me or someone around me, but they were connected to my allergies. I didn’t have to respond, just take them in. As I sat there she said three words over four or five minutes.




The reality is we live in days when anger, betrayal, and sadness are pervasive, particularly in the irrational and irresponsible way Trump has engaged both his presidency and the pandemic. But aiming all of this at him would be for me to take the easy way out. What she was saying is the anger, betrayal, and sadness are in my cells, my bones.

The way I understand allergies is that they are a reaction to something the body deems a danger. The body produces histamines in hyperbolic amounts trying of offer a defense. The sneezing and itchy eyes are the body’s reaction to the pollen or whatever. That I take five antihistamines daily and still fight allergies means that my body’s histamine production has lost all sense of reality and stays in an unending crisis mode. I am overwhelmed by my own responses. I stop up. I break out. I can’t think. I feel less than myself. The force with which my body responds takes me out. I have to find new frequencies–new resonances–to change my responses.

What a helpful metaphor.

David Whyte has the most helpful words on anger I think I have ever read.

Anger is the deepest form of compassion, for another, for the world, for the self, for a life, for the body, for a family, and for our ideals, all vulnerable and all, possibly about to be hurt. Stripped of physical imprisonment and violent reaction, anger is the purest form of care, the internal living flame of anger always illuminates what we belong to, what we wish to protect, and what we are willing to hazard ourselves for. . . .What we name as anger is actually only the incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care in our outer daily life; the unwillingness to be large enough and generous enough to hold what we love helplessly in our bodies or our mind with the clarity and breadth of our whole being.

And then,

. . . anger in its purest state is the measure of the way we are implicated in the world and made vulnerable through love in all its specifics: a daughter, a house, a family, an enterprise, a land, or a colleague.

Anger is compassion at its most profound and, perhaps, most vulnerable. Sadness–grief–is love living with loss. Betrayal is broken trust. In the same way that anger expressed violently is the “incoherent physical incapacity to sustain this deep form of care,” so my allergies are an incoherent and incessant reaction, even as my body is trying to protect itself.

I’m so wrapped up in the metaphor now that I am not sure this makes sense to anyone but me, so I will sing myself out. I recorded a mashup of “Everybody Hurts” (REM) and “Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior” for use in one of our upcoming virtual worship services.

Keep looking for resonance.



  1. Religare (religion) where we get the word ligament. Connecting this with that. You are an All-American at it.
    Again tonight.

Leave a Reply