Monday, June 7, 2004

Trish #6

Trish made progress today. For one thing, she opened her eyes.

This time, instead of the spaced-out, unfocused glaze we have been seeing, the light of her person shined through, at least for brief moments. She repeatedly stroked my arm. She squeezed my hand. I tell you, no touch has ever passed between us that was more intimate or more precious than this. Nor has any private moment between us ever been more ecstatic or full of bliss for me.

Talitha, Tiffany and I sang Blessed Assurance and Amazing Grace as she nodded her head. Two or three were gathered and our Lord was there, just as He promised.

Trish once pointed to the tubes in her mouth and nose. She was asking me for an explanation for her discomfort. She did not seem to be afraid. She seemed to be at peace.

The MRI results reveal that Trish has probably suffered at least one small stroke since last Tuesday. However, the doctor says that there is no significant tissue damage. So there is every reason to believe that the current paralysis on her left side will not be permanent.

All of this is good news. Trish remains at a at high risk for vasospasms, however. These frightening episodes occur 3 -10 days after an aneurysm. I have learned -- and I hope I explain this correctly -- the outside of the arteries are allergic to blood. This is a good thing if you cut your arm off in some field. You have a fair chance of not bleeding to death. The arteries will clamp shut and stop the bleeding. In the brain, this same life-saving feature can be disastrous. Since an aneurysm soaks the brain in blood, arteries and veins become very irritated and agitated. So the arteries tend to clamp shut, just as they are programmed to do. Please, pray hard and specifically that Trish will be delivered from these vasospasms.

It is so hard to sleep at night while Trish goes through this dangerous time frame. It is good to know that God was mindful of this. Lat night, a young nurse introduced herself to me. She said her name was Amanda Evans. Tonight, that same nurse said, "I go to your church. I have worked here at this hospital a long time but this is the first time I have ever been assigned to this particular unit. God has placed me here for tonight. So go home and rest tonight, pastor. The Lord has me here to watch your wife. I promise that I will give her my undivided attention."

More of God's secret agents. This week, I have run into them everywhere. This is so appropriate because my Trish is one of these secret agents herself . She works quietly. She prays behind the scenes. She just does what needs to be done. She pushes the darkness back a bit and gives witness to the light in whatever situation she finds herself. She does not mind high things. She condescends to men of low estate.

This week I have watched doctors and nurses, cleaning people and interns and all kinds of other people at work, all busy saving lives. They comfort hurting people. They bring hope to hopeless situations. They stand guard while we sleep. They keep watch over the walls of the city because evil is always trying to sneak in to kill, to steal and to destroy. These hospital workers have made me think of our policeman, mental health workers, sanitation workers and other kinds of workers who each in their own way contribute to the ceaseless struggle against chaos and evil that continually works to overcome humanity's health. And here I though that the church was the main place where good confronts evil! As it turns out, the work of the church, though vital, is hardly solitary in doing the work of redemption and warring against the darkness.

This week, dozens have worked hard to give me and my family space to grieve and care for ourselves. Talitha's mother-in-law stayed home from work to keep the newborn baby safe so my daughter could be with her mother as much as possible. Our pastors and church staff doubled up on work that I have not been there to do. Then there is my son in law: he cannot be here because he is a soldier. He is busy guarding us all from any possible attack. Such people form the structure that holds the world together. Through such people the kingdom of God makes itself visible to the world. Tonight, I honor these real heroes, the people who really make the work work. They humble me. They make me want to be certain that what I am doing is really of eternal significance and is not just some sick ego trip done in Christ's name for my own aggrandizement.

We live in a day of superstar religious figures. They are too often plastic people made for the stage who have no real mission in life other than strutting before a camera or a congregation. They master the moves and words of piety and prayer. they never hold a grieving mother. They never listen to the sobs of an addict who is crushed in spirit and who has lost all hope of redemption. My wife, Trish, is the essence of the kind of people who really advance the kingdom of God. She breaths concern for people who are lost. She seeks out those who are in need of help. She has never cared for fame. She has never sought to be recognized. She has always been slightly uncomfortable even with the reasonable amount of protocol that public work requires. She has always looked for a way to get to the periphery of the crowd in order to find the one person who may be left out and unnoticed. She finds struggling people, uncool people, ignored people, poor and minority people, sinner people -- she makes the unwanted people of the world feel included.

So it is altogether fitting that these should be the kind of people who now care for Trish. Of course, sooner or later, they are the kind of people who care for all of us. The "cool" folk rarely make it to needy places or to needy people. When it comes their time for care, it is people like Trish who are there, dispensing grace and doing good.

Trish is now sleeping through the most dangerous week of her life. But an angel stays awake all night to keep her safe, a woman who was embarrassed to introduce herself to me; a woman who apologized for her presumptuousness. The writer to the Hebrews refers to such people as "those of whom the world was not worthy." Tonight, I learned what that phrase meant.

No comments: