With each new day, the pictures of folks we know and love
receiving their Covid vaccinations brings relief to weary hearts and
minds. We need more days and more
moments filled with these stories. Those
days are surely coming.
And yet, we know we have a long way to go. Questions abound: when, how long, what about
for the poorest of the poor, what about out of the way and forgotten places,
what about equal access for all?
In the days to come, even more so than the last eleven
months, we need abounding love and grace to lead the way.
Persistent questions of when can this and
that happen again wash over everything. Hounding moments stating that others are doing this or that -- so what
about us? We are living the in-between
times of the almost and already, but not yet.
Every persistent question needs to be led with thoughts of
the people and not just the project, event, or detail.
One key area where this is playing out in the world is with
our schools and educational systems. Each county and district seeking answers to the driving questions for
getting back into the buildings of education. An overwhelming amount of information to absorb and an abundance of
people to consider at every level.
For our family of seven, we are making the choice to delay
sending our kids back into the building for this spring academic season. As the emails and information were given, at
each step we asked wholistic important questions. Then came the email that it was time to
decide. Nothing like a deadline to force
We decided to continue remote learning due to our concern
for the staff of our children’s schools. We did not see enough in terms of full protection and care for all,
along with full access to the vaccinations, in order to walk back thru the
doors. We understand our privilege in
making that decision. We have the
resources, home, and schedule that allows for our children to continue to grow
and learn at grade level. Not everyone
has that as a possibility.
And this is why I say for
educational staff, districts and counties and states across the land, parents
and administrators, we need abounding grace and love to lead the way.
No harsh critique of the other.
No finger pointing of superiority or
speaking as though one has a corner on the market.
Humility, hope, love, and abounding
grace is what is needed.
Everyone trying to do the best they can with what they have
as we slowly work our way through another major disrupted area of life. Grace and love for all -- and all really does
I challenge all of us, to be the most loving and grace-sharing
people on the face of the planet, in every single area of our lives!
I was reminded of this need through the words of Sara. Below is a reflection written by a member of
the congregation I served in Colorado, Sara Schuster, who is a doctor on the
front lines fighting COVID.
"Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be
afraid. The Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation."
When someone's heart stops in the
hospital, it’s not like in the movies.
The beeping monitor doesn’t provide
any information we do not already know, so it is turned off.
No one is yelling. The doctor stands
at the foot of the bed and calmly leads the code. The rest of the room is quiet
so as not to miss anything.
When someone dies no one screams or
throws a tray in frustration. The doctor runs through everything that has been
done, asks if anyone has any other ideas, and when no one does they pronounce
time of death.
The patient is quietly and
respectfully cleaned up and made ready for family.
This is when, as the doctor, I
I take a quick moment to compose myself in the
hallway before I go down the hall to where the patient’s family is waiting.
I admitted this patient. His PCP
diagnosed him with COVID the day before. He’d been sick for a few days but
nothing too out of the ordinary. He was having a harder time breathing so came
to the emergency room.
When I admitted him, we talked about
the usual things; how long he’s been sick, his other medical conditions.
Then the question that scares
everyone. I’ve reworked it a thousand times but there just isn’t a way to ask
it that doesn’t frighten someone. But I still must ask:
“If your breathing were to get worse, or your heart were to
stop; would you want us to do everything we could including intubate you or
He says yes. He’s 32 years old and
healthy. He has no reason to say no.
Which leads to where we are now.
The monitor has been turned off.
I’ve asked if anyone has any other ideas. Now the nurses are covering him up,
and I need to go talk to his mother.
She knew something was wrong. We
can’t let COVID patients have visitors, so the fact that we asked her to come
into the hospital to see him was not a good sign.
Last night we outfitted her and her
daughter in gowns and masks and shields and let them go sit with him for a
while. The nurse braided his long hair and adjusted the breathing tube to look
less frightening. They stroked his face and told him they loved him. We stood
in the hallway as a quiet vigil until they were ready to go back to the waiting
I want to pretend she couldn’t hear
when the code was called on the overhead pager. That she didn’t see a crowd
converge around his room. That she didn’t see it slowly disperse as we needed
less and less people to help.
Based on the tears on her face I
know that isn’t true.
I try to be brief; no one wants the
details. Right now, I am nothing more than a confirmation of what she already
knows happened. They reach for each other and cry quietly. I stand beside them
silently until they are ready to turn and face me again.
I’m afraid. Do they blame me? I told
him I would do everything I could, and though deep down I know I did; I can’t
shake the fear that maybe I could have done something different. I’m afraid
they’ll hate me. That I’ll be the villain in a story they tell for years to
come. That I am inadequate and not deserving of the sadness I feel.
She grabs my hand.
She thanks me, tearfully and
genuinely. She tells me she is grateful for everything we did and will never
forget it. I barely get away before I feel the tears pricking the backs of my
Not from sadness alone this time.
But to feel love in such a dark place. It’s like a small ember that grows to
life suddenly on a cold night or a faint light in the darkness. It is startling
and unexpected, and I am completely overwhelmed.
It is a God kind of love. Love that
is shown not because I deserved it; not because I pulled off a miracle or
brought good news.
It is love shown because we are both
children of the God who is love.
As I sit in the stairwell and cry, I
feel a sense of peace that wasn’t there before. The peace that only comes from
love. A peace that allows me to dry my eyes and resume rounding on my other
patients; that lets me smile as I enter the next room to tell my patient he can
go home today; that lets me laugh when the older gentleman in the next room
makes a joke about the food.
Peace that carries me onto another
Dear God, thank you for the strength
to endure the difficulties we encounter in this life. Knowing that our strength
does not come from our skills or power alone, but rather from the love and peace
you bring to our lives. Help us to use that strength to serve others with love
and mercy, that they may find their own strength and salvation in you. Amen.