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Day Six of my captivity, thoughts on repentance, and a quest for hyssop

April 23, 2007

While the excessive population of eosiniphils resident in my vigilant hyperimmune system was busy cannibalizing my own cells, it failed, of course, to guard the portal by which the current virus-in-residence entered six days ago.

I believe this virus is an actual unmutated twin to the one that alighted for 10 days in January. But I had more residual energy to withstand this episode for the first four days; then, on Day Five, it scored a knock-out, and today it is back to being a mere cold.

I attribute the energy I had to better withstand the beast to Y-Dan. Y-Dan apparently means “external elixir,” and it is said to work the external body– the joints and ligaments–in order to stimulate health in the internal systems. I’m not cold-proof, but I seem not to be the pushover I was before I began daily practice of Y-Dan.

Thera Flu was useful to a point, and their new Cinnamon Apple flavor fairly palatable, but its somniferous and desiccating effects made it desirable to seek other relief. I researched the herbs in my kitchen and learned I could make a helpful tea with green tea, rosemary, mint, marjoram, and summer savory. Other things would have helped, but these herbs I had on hand.

At first, I brewed a teaspoon of each except the mint, of which I used two tablespoons, in a 1.5 qt. teapot. I steeped it for a timid 5 minutes. The flavor was herby but not horrible and I drank two pots of this over the course of the day. The comfort it yielded was equal to the benefits of Thera Flu.

But the cold lingered. I brewed the tea longer: 10 minutes. It was still palatable, but more bitter. But it was more penetrating. Sometimes a treatment must be bitter to pierce the sickness. Hmmm. Sickness is a result of sin. The thought crossed my mind that sometimes repentance must be fairly bitter before the spirit is restored and a sense of grace recovered. Psalm 51 and its “purge me with hyssop” came to mind. What is hyssop? The image from Becket came to mind, of Henry III ordering himself thrashed in the cathedral after requisitioning the slaughter of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. Surely that was not what David meant in his plea for effectual repentance.

As usual, the ASV’s Bible Dictionary was not helpful. Wikipedia had a fair amount of useful information on hyssop, but its treatment of Biblical references was vague and speculative. The editors appear to believe that hyssop was used primarily to sprinkle things and as a thrashing device. That doesn’t make sense in light of the herb’s numerous other listed medicinal applications. To reconcile this, they decided that hyssop isn’t the same hyssop referred to in the Bible, and that it didn’t grow in the Middle East. But it grows in the Mediterranean region, so that wasn’t persuasive. I suspect hyssop, a cathartic, was used as an expectorant, among other things. I would defend it as a cold remedy and add it to my tea if I grew it. In any case, hyssop increases grape yields if planted near grapevines, so it seems a useful thing to grow if one grows grapes. But it is antagonistic to radishes.

Hyssop doesn’t bring about health; it might restore certain systemic conditions for health. Repentance doesn’t bring about righteousness, but it brings about certain conditions associated with righteousness. It restores us to a sense of grace. Actual grace is never lost, but our sense of grace can be waylaid. Ultimately, the only actual righteousness we will ever have is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to us upon justification, through the faith that is given upon justification.

If we err in thinking of justification backwards, and believe that we come up with faith within ourselves and so receive justification in response to our faith, then we simply misapprehend our own power and influence over God. And in doing so, we think far too little of our sin, and far, far too little of God’s righteousness. If we think that we can begin to moderate this gulf between our sinful condition and God’s righteousness through our own efforts, we might as well think we can reduce our distance from Saturn by standing on a chair.

I have habituated myself to some patterns–Y-Dan and strengthening on the exercise ball–that might make me less susceptible to becoming debilitated by a cold. I need to habituate myself more to patterns of repentance so I will be less susceptible to becoming debilitated by a lost sense of grace. Tea with bitter herbs will not do this; but it sometimes stimulates necessary reflection.hyssop.jpg

One Comment
  1. April 23, 2007 9:39 am

    Very good reflection, especially given that I seem to be catching a cold. I’m probably six days behind you.

    Now we should find out were to get hyssop seeds.

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