Bed 52

Sr. Wantabee was at the hospital today. Bed 52 was her last stop before heading home. The woman in her early 50s had a cancerous tumor removed and had not expected the incision to be so big nor so obvious. The next step was radiation and chemo “just in case,” and she was torn wanting to please her various advisors. A faithful husband was unemployed, a daughter with several grandchildren for her and a son married too, about to have another grandchild. Life was pretty good after all. After all what?

She shared how as a young adult she chose adult baptism with the Lutherans. Her Catholic parent married her Protestant parent and the family chaos was resolved by allowing the children to pick their own church. She had chosen Lutheran as an adult and although the baptism was embarrassing, she was comfortable with her choice but had drifted away. Her husband was Catholic but he too had drifted.

Well, actually the two children were from her first marriage that “did nothing for her” and he had three children from his first marriage but they did not relate to their father. The two of them have grown together and “things have worked out well.” She had been thinking that perhaps when all this is over, she would try to find a church that fits…but where to begin?

Sr. Wantabee agreed with this woman, the product of divorce and second chances, that God is not Santa Claus as much as we would like him to be and life is not always “happy ever after.” Churches also are not paradises but the spiritual discipline of weekly meditating, listening to scripture that challenges a person to get outside herself, finding a supportive community is not bad. Sr. Wantabee shared that healing happens best when we are in tune with our spiritual self and in a working relationship with the God of the universe. 911 prayers can be a bit demanding, I need help and I need it NOW. She laughed and agreed that for sure God is not Santa Claus and after she heals, she’ll think about getting in touch with him.

Bed 51, the man who had had a tragic accident and could still chat about faith with Sr. Wantabee, had a birthday today. In their visit he admitted that he had pondered what brought Sr. Wantabee to the hospital to visit. It doesn’t pay. No it’s volunteer. So why come. She comes not because of some great compassion for people “in less fortunate circumstances” than she, she admitted, but because a hospital is a dynamic, active place where each room is like a different math problem. Room 2 is algebra for a half hour. Then geometry for a half hour. Somethings you get lucky and get a calculus problem. They are all interesting people with interesting stories that require Sr. Wantabee think quickly on her feet. Each room is like a different book in the library of life. Bed 51 was labeled, “Unfair,” while bed 52 was labeled, “I’ll think about it.” Heaven cannot be boring.

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