I spend Sunday at the hospital, as I do most Sundays.
I visit a room after a patient has died. She received remarkable care but her body was done working. During the time between her arrival, which I saw, and her death, our staff worked night and day to provide respect and care and answers. I listen to a small family talk about deep care for each other, about a commitment to live and love well.
I visit a room while a patient is being cared for. There was a breathing difficulty. Staff in and out of the room outnumbered the patient and family 4 to one. The patient and the family have fear and tears. I call a priest. There is the blessing of oil and the blessing of medicine.
I come home and watch video from a village where people have been attacked with nerve gas the day after the nearest hospital was bombed. It’s a thirty mile drive to the closest hospital, where patients will outnumber medical staff by many to a few. The patients who are patients, not bodies. Infants and adults, now bodies, remain in the village, lined up.
I talk with a friend who drives a school bus. He talks about his conversations with a teen who is feeling isolated. He listens carefully, this driver. He offers counsel, this school system employee. He cares, this human and follower of Jesus.
I struggle as much as you do as I watch news reports and Facebook feeds, not knowing what to do and how to respond to oversimplifications and under-reflection.
But I am, in my best moments, convinced that we each have one other person that we see every day that we can approach with competence and compassion and concern. We can do our work, whatever it is, with all the skill we have.
I walked through my day reminding myself that I, with Timothy, have been given a spirit of love and power and self-control with which to do the work God puts in my way. You have too.
This was first published in 2018. Because I had a similar weekend, I’m using it again.
And, happy birthday to Nancy Swanson, who I am privileged to see at the end of hard days (and almost every day), and who is a daily example of “living with competence and compassion and concern.”