May 14, 2022
It began in band class. I was playing my flute, enjoying the piece my fellow middle-school musicians and I were rehearsing, when I felt an odd sensation under one of the long sleeves of my blouse. A hard bumpiness met my stroking touch, and the area was also becoming increasingly itchy.
When I returned home and removed my blouse, I saw that a rash had erupted on the inside of my right elbow; the left arm had followed suit, as did the backs of both knees. Whatever this was, it was spreading.
Our family doctor determined that it was a particularly severe case of eczema. It was not what any middle school kid would want her schoolmates to see—especially in gym class.
In the mid-1960s, medications to treat eczema were limited and had varying effectiveness. Calamine Lotion was the go-to product at the time, so my mother bought several bottles of the Pepto Bismol-hued liquid and slathered it on my infected areas every day. Thankfully, it had no unpleasant smell, but it dried out my skin, which it was supposed to do. As I was also running an intermittent fever, the doctor advised that I stay home from school for a week.
But one week turned into two. I was miserable.
The long confinement at home and separation from my schoolmates felt like a kind of death, and I also had some sense of how lepers, as described in the scriptures, vilified, shunned, and needing to hide because of their affliction, must have felt.
After the two weeks, my fever broke and the rash improved, although it would take many months for my skin to return to a more normal condition.
There are many kinds of entombment, and my eczema was one of them. When Jesus healed the lepers, he released them from the tombs into which their affliction had placed them, and they experienced the Easter resurrection, which the One who healed them would later know.
I too was released from the two-weeks “burial” my ailment had imposed, and I returned to what felt like a new and healthy life.
Jesus used various means to release the “dead” from their tombs; sometimes he used life-giving words, sometimes he used mud made from his own saliva and dirt. And sometimes he has even used Calamine lotion.
Photo: Byzantine mosaic, 12th century