Archive for Relationships – Page 2

Birth, Death, and Ambiguity

uncertaintyFriends once asked my wife and me to support them during the birth of their child. Such a privilege! We set aside a day for the wondrous event. Everyone was ready: parents and nurses and doctors and even us, the invited friends. But the baby hadn’t read the memo. Hours went by. Labor continued. A sunset eventually became a sunrise. Labor lurched into a next day.

Though we like to think birth is predictable, it’s not. You’ll ask the friendly obstetrician for a due date and she’ll provide a particular day or range of days. She might be right. She might be wrong.

Labor can seem to lead to birth in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

It can also feel longer than the formation of the Grand Canyon. Read More →

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The Death Rattle

handsI’d occasionally join a nurse for a home visit when I worked as a hospice chaplain. While the nurse tended to the physical needs, I had a chance to chat, hold a hand, and share a prayer with the patient. I might also meet the rest of the family—for more prayers, to listen to their fears, to answer questions—while the nurse focused on the one who was dying.

During one of those visits, I heard a nurse refer to a patient’s lungs as having “crackles.”

Hmmm?

“What do you mean by ‘crackles’?” I asked, recalling the famous snap, crackle, and pop! of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. Read More →

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Named and Known

Once as a hospice chaplain . . .

Several women, including his wife, hovered near the patient.

The home health aide had finished the patient’s bath. The nurse was in the midst of her exam. The homemaker vacuumed the living room. His wife folded laundry . . . and I helped her so we could have a chance to chat.

In order to smainpend quiet time with patients, and not overwhelm a family with too many people, I usually scheduled appointments that didn’t overlap with the rest of the hospice team’s visits. But this was a day where many of the staff arrived at the family’s home at the same time. The patient, a husband and father, rested on his bed. His skin glowed from a recent bath and his clothes were fresh from the laundry. His contented smile lingered. All of the hospice team had been visiting him for weeks. While we were the people who dusted his house, shampooed his hair, prayed prayers beside him, and adjusted his medication . . . we were also, best of all, people he knew on a first name basis.

In one of the most intimate and powerful Biblical moments, Moses stood before the burning bush (Exodus 3) while God’s message was revealed:  Lead the children of Israel from slavery!

Moses hemmed and hawed. God persisted. Finally, Moses blurted, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is God’s name?’ what shall I say to them?” Old Moses’ knees may have been shaking, and sweat from more than desert heat may have dripped off his face, but he stood his ground. Read More →

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