Although it is not my favorite task as a pastor it seems odd to have gone so long without visiting anyone in the hospital. Hospitals can be such a difficult place; we go in with the hopes of healing and recovery but until such a time there are often fearful moments and lots of waiting.
I have offered hundreds of prayers at the bedside through the years, some joyous prayers of thanksgiving as a new child is brought into the world or when a test results provides good news, but also those beseeching God to be with a suffering individual, to ease the pain, provide strength and healing or least some peace.
Currently regardless of the relationship to the patient visitors are not allowed in hospitals, nursing homes or places offering physical rehab. It is difficult for patient and family to be separated in such a way. I pray for all those who find themselves in this terrible predicament. I understand it, but I hope it doesn’t last much longer.
I found an interesting piece written by Episcopal priest, Suzanne Guthrie from Grace’s Window. I found in it a sense of holiness and mystery. She writes: “A hospital corridor can be a mysterious place, a terrible and holy threshold upon the boundary of the soul. Here you will find an opening through which you might apprehend and embrace unexperienced aspects of God. Uprooted from your ordinary days, the hospital confounds the peaceful soul with the realization that the God of daily living is also the God of sudden dying. The God of the comforting parish sanctuary is also the God of the Intensive Care Unit. The God of beeswax candle and incense is the God of vomit and pus; the God of white linen and embroidered chasuble is the God of plastic curtain and sweaty sheet; the God of organ and flute is the God of squeaky gurney wheels and crying children; the God of deep port wine and delicately embossed communion bread is the God of infected blood and wounded flesh.”
Such contrasts Rev. Guthrie presents here and all so raw but accurate. I suspect I will never enter a hospital again the same after reading this.
Let us pray: Healer of our every ill, you never fail to help those who call upon you when broken, afraid, or alone. We pray for all those hospitalized at this time, for healing and a sense of your presence as they must be there without the support of family and loved ones. Take away any sense of abandonment they might be feeling and comfort them as they await release from what ails them. Be with the medical staff and give them knowledge, patience and understanding in difficult times. Give them sure confidence in the work they do that it may be seen as healing ministry, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.
The Rev. Ellen Meissgeier