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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Call: glory and wounds

This Easter weekend was spent mostly in the hospital, as we were both on call.  Which can be a little stressful when trying to cook nice meals or spend time with kids, but thankfully they're an understanding crew (including the delightful A.H., British classmate of Caleb who came back to school almost a week early to train for rugby, and is staying with us).  There were about seven new babies admitted to the nursery in a day and a half, the sickest at about midnight last night when a woman in a nearby town called her nurse neighbor to give advice on her stomach pain, after living in denial of being pregnant for nine months and in labor for a couple of days.  The neighbor convinced her to come to Kijabe, and she was quickly taken for a C-section.  I hurried through the quiet night into the bright buzz of the operating theatres just as the baby was laid limp and lifeless on the warming bed.  I haven't assigned an apgar score of 1 (on a scale of 1-bad to 10-good) very often.  It took a long five minutes of intubation and pushing oxygen into the lungs to get a response, and as we whisked the baby back to the nursery I wondered if he would pull through.  But now almost 24 hours later he's holding his own.  As is another premature baby, and a set of premature twins where the big boy is twice the size of the small girl.  Blinking, coughing, grimacing, crying, purplish and slippery, so easily winding down their heart-rates due to coldness or stress, these fragile bits of humanity land in our care, and the weight of responsibility is inversely proportional to their meager two or three pounds.  Then there was the lumbar puncture to do on a baby who was born with a huge ballooning cyst of brain fluid protruding from the middle of his face.  The neurosurgeons removed it, leaving a gaping hole in his split nose/mouth which will have to be fixed later, but unfortunately, he caught a serious infection, probably in the OR.  He looks somehow frog-like with his bizarre split-open face and his surgical scars, but in a loveably pitiful sort of way.  And of course the children on the older ward that I know less well, some gasping for breath, others too listless to feed.  We did manage to join the sunrise service up at RVA for staff, quite lovely, and communion this evening.  But no easter eggs, no baskets of chocolate, no hunts, not even a real church service, this was an Easter spent in the hospital.  One hand on the babies, the other on life, trying to hold them together.

Which, according to the book I've been immersed in through Lent, Surpirsed by Hope, is the proper way to celebrate.

The book focuses on Romans 8 and 1 Cor 15 to show that Easter is the reality of the new-heavens-and-new-earth breaking into time, the first-fruit demonstration of a re-made bodily life that will one day flood the world.  There are many deeply thoughtful passages, but I will just close with one that encourages me on call with visions of purpose and glory:  This brings us to 1 Corinthians 15:58 once more:  what you do in the Lord is not in vain. You are--strange though it may seem, almost as hard to believe as the resurrection itself--accomplishing something that will become in due course part of God's new world.  Every act of love, gratitude, and kindness; every wok of art of music inspired by the love of God and delight in the beauty of his creation; every minute spent teaching a severely handicapped child to read or to walk; every act of care and nurture, of comfort and support, for one's fellow human beings and for that matter one's fellow nonhuman creatures; and of course every prayer, all Spirit-led teaching, every deed that spreads the gospel, builds up the church, embraces and embodies holiness rather than corruption, and makes the name of jesus honored in the world--all of this will find its way, through the resurrecting power of God, into the new creation that God will one day make.  That is the logic of the mission of God. . . (p 208)

Sounds bracing.  But at almost 11 pm after only a few hours of sleep in this 48 hour stretch, I close with another quote too, (p 280):
It will, of course, be costly.  You don't get to share in God's life and escape without wounds.  Look what happened to Jesus himself.  

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