A week ago Saturday my partner woke up with severe chest pain, which turned out to be caused by massive amounts of fluid in her lungs. She’s been in the hospital ever since. I’ve been by her side, through all the procedures, pokes and prods, and indignities. I’m incredibly grateful that this has been allowed. One of Rosean’s nurses worked through the Pandemic in the ICU here, and she was able to share with us a bit of the anguish she felt for her patients who suffered and often died in isolation.
Hospital time is composed of long stretches of tedium interspersed with short bursts of high intensity. The signs and symbols of one’s position in the world are stripped away by hospital gowns and equal opportunity pain. Prison must be a bit like this – though without the caring nurses, doctors, and CNA’s.
In the midst of the fear and worry, as specialists work to figure out what is wrong and what to do about it – as they consult with us, move forward, and then assess the results of what they’ve implemented – our communities have been praying for us. Prayers for Rosean and for me have woven their way through every moment.
When I was younger, if I were feeling particularly honest, I would have told you that such prayer was a nice idea but that I wasn’t counting on it to change anything. But these days I find that I can actually feel the presence of these prayers. They have weight in my psyche, an unfaltering, glowing presence. Reaching into my heart in a quiet moment, I will feel encouraged and sustained by the people praying – by their very prayers and by the love and well-wishing behind the gesture. Some have sent texts of candles they have lit, and the light actually shines within me.
The passage from 2 Peter quoted above is what popped out at me as I read the lessons for today. In the prayers offered for Rosean and me and in my ability to perceive their strengthening and supportive effect, I find a lamp that illuminates the dark places within me. They are like Peter’s encouraging witness to the living Christ, Beloved Son of the Majestic Glory. They remind me that the kingdom of heaven is a reality, and that it is accessible at every moment.
And so I find myself re-committing to praying intercessory prayers. For the prisoner whom I cannot see and don’t actually know, I can offer that little burst of energy along the strings of the web that connects us. For the terrified person lying under the rubble in Syria or alone in a hospital bed, for the parents of someone just killed in a mass shooting, for refugees wandering homeless, for food-insecure students at our local university, I can pray. And, of course, I can pray for all those whom I love but from whom I am distant – for support in their struggles, for healing, and for their wisdom to blossom and be shared.
May we all continue to be lamps in dark places, reaching across the miles. Until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts, may our tiny lights shine hope and love. Amen.