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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Of waves and calm

Today's reading was from Matthew 8, the storm on the sea, the panic, the calling out to Jesus for help.  Then the order from chaos.  Wright compares this to creation, when the darkness and formlessness covered the earth, and the Spirit of God hovered to separate light from dark and wet from dry.  Jesus is bringing a new creation to bear upon the chaos of a sin-broken world, so he re-enacts the creation story by calming the waves.  And even though Jesus was present and able, he did not react until his friends cried out to him for help.  The people of God through the centuries fear God is asleep, the world threatens to drown us, and we pray in desperation to actually see the miracle of evil defeated.

This week, make that this month or this year, I've been wave-slapped.  It is rare for me to get to be so overwhelmed I can't even write.  But this is one of those seasons.  It all blurs together, phone calls every fifteen minutes through the night, treks to the hospital to sometimes blow life back into a dying baby, and too often fail, holding sobbing shoulders of distraught moms.  Rounds that drag on and on and on as the patients line the halls and crowd the corners.  Juggling that with three teens, new team mates, end-of-sports-season finals, a birthday.  On the day that we had fifteen kids for pizza making for Jack's birthday, one of my long-term patients died and the parents asked me to attend the burial.  Our life is so often like that paradox:  baby M in his coffin, defeated at only a few months of age by an overwhelming infection in spite of surviving weeks of intensive care early on for congenital anomalies that were surgically corrected, the shuffling crowd of mourners, the grave in the hillside . . .

. . . . then a celebration with huge healthy teasing young men, strong, hopeful, funny, full of life.  Then back into the fray.  After baby M, three more much healthier 4 to 10 month olds all died within the week with a similar pattern of unexplained viral symptoms, wheezing and struggling breaths, draining fluids, dwindling pulses.  I was alarmed enough by the cluster to call the national research lab (equivalent of the CDC here) who sent a team to collect samples. No clear results yet, but we have something dangerous to small children circulating.

So into the middle of the storm about ten days ago a visitor arrived.  Dr. Lina is an ER paediatrician working in Chicago who trained with Mardi years ago in Florida, then worked with my colleagues from residency in my old hospital in Chicago.  She strode into the choppy waters with energy, cheer, and calm.  It has been nice to have a friend to work with--when there are only two of us running nursery (bursting at double capacity), the inpatient floor, the ICU, the outpatient clinic, deliveries, consults, call, teaching . . well, it gets hard, and we barely see each other.  So having one more person to share the load has been HUGE.  Dr. Lina has the heart and skills of a Bible teacher as well, and blessed our monthly team meeting with a devotion that was deep and meaningful.

But the best part of this timing was that Lina's arrival gave me the gift of a weekend off, and that was a key weekend in Julia's life, and one that I would have hated to miss.  First, the girls' football finals were on Saturday.  We played well and controlled the game, but mid-second-half there was still no score.  So when Julia had a solid shot from outside the box that dipped into the back of the net over the keeper . . well, it was a beautiful score and again a game-decider in the finals and a great end to her soccer career at RVA.  She was elated, and so was her team.  

Jack's team won their championship finals too.  It was a great day.

That night we had our "caring community",  a group of seniors who come to eat and relax and be prayed for and just let down in a safe place.

The next day, Julia's senior singing group led worship for all of us at church, and sang a special song for the offeratory.

Then we had the end-of-season football party here, which is another 25 kids and flour everywhere and circles of laughter.

So this is a tribute to crying out to Jesus in the storm and finding some calm in beautiful goals, smiling girls, music, time spent with kids.  In talking to Luke and Caleb on the phone as they were TOGETHER (Luke is visiting Caleb in Colorado for a day on an epic cross-country road trip) and hearing the wholeness in their voices, the completeness that reveals the ragged edge of always being apart.  In having a colleague to cover enough of the duties that I didn't miss milestones.  In enjoying a daughter who will leave us all too soon.  

1 comment:

Jill said...

And if you can't pray He leads others to pray. You are never alone.