There is a verse in today's daily lectionary Psalm (131) that I love:
"I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother's breast; my soul is quieted within me."
As the day began it was easy to believe that I was living this Psalm. For my soul was quiet, just like a child on its mother's breast. So I got up about 6:00 and went to the gym to work out for a few minutes. Then I returned home and called the hospital. The nurse told me that Trish had had a good night. I prepared for a good day, a quiet day, a day of peace for my soul.
I went on to the hospital. Pastor Mark Bucklay was there and reminded me that a group of pastors with whom I have met monthy for nearly five years, were waiting at the Starbucks next to the hospital. I walked over to see them and they prayed for me and encouraged my spirit. As I was visiting with them, Wynnona Judd called.
"Dan," she said, "you need some mountain friends right now. I am smelling the earth of your mountain home rigth now and if you will concentrate you will smell it too." And then she began to sing to me.
I returned to the hospital. I went into the ICU every few minutes to see Trish. I sang in her ear. I prayed with her. She showed signs of response and my soul stayed quiet.
Once, as I was walking into the ICU, I spoke to a cleaning lady who was pulling her mop and bucket behind her. As I contiuned on my way, the lady said, "wait!" So I turned to her. When I saw that she was Hispanic, I switched languages.
Then she turned over her identification badge. She showed me a small icon of Christ.
"This is who I really work for,"she said. I pray for patients as I clean."
"My wife is here," I said. "She's in trouble."
The cleaning lady looked into my eyes and said, "don't be afraid. She will wake up again. She belongs to Jesus."
I invited her into Trish's room to pray. She told me that she begins her day each moring by going into the chapel to pray for the patients in ICU. Then she begins the work for which she is paid, praying silently as she cleans.
My soul was quitened. God has secret agents everywhere. There is no reason to be afraid.
A few minutes later, I was praying with Trish. She tried to talk for a moment. She looked as though she were crying inside that space where she is living right now. The moment didn't last long but I knew that I could feel her presence with me. She was hearing me. She was praying with me. My soul stayed quiet.
Then everything got scary again. The artery on her right side began to close, or "spasm." A doctor told me bluntly that she had taken a turn for the worse. They were going to do angioplasty to try to open her artery. My soul got troubled. At 11:00 PM, the procedure was finished but with uncertain results. She appears to be doing better. The doctor was guardedly optomistic. However, he said, "we may have to do this proceedure several times in the next two weeks. So tonight I came home not able to know for sure if Trish will keep healing through the night.
My soul is troubled. I am exahusted but I can't sleep yet.
I just turned on the computer and read dozens of e-mails from all over the nation. Some were from old friends. Some were from people I do not know. But I read each one, and as I did I "quietened my soul like an infant on its mother's breast." A quiet soul takes some work sometimes. Writing this e-mail is a part of how I quietened my soul, slowly weaving the days joys and sorrows into a tapestry to offer to my friends.
So as I prepare now to sleep, I hear a hymn in my head:
Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessèd we shall meet at last.