Friday, October 23, 2009

On God's presence

I've had a rough week for various reasons. The stress of my boys being sick is/was at the top of the list among other things. Last night, as I was IM-ing with my mom, we were talking about talking to God, how to, when to versus how to/when to actively achieve your own healing, success, etc.

Then almost by design, I went to a bible study in which the subject was talking to God and being in His presence.

As I struggled through the longest day of my life, I felt Him in ways I wouldn't have seen, felt or heard had I not allowed myself to be more open.

My day began when my baby woke up at 1:30a.m. crying, coughing, wheezing. I went from feeding him, giving him Motrin, calling the doctor, giving him a Nebulizer treatment to driving at 3 in the morning to an awful PG County hospital to be there for 6 hours with my infant child. Watching people cut their nails, come in seizing, curse someone out, storm out due to waiting fatigue, complain that they needed a dialysis exchange and they had been waiting for 4 hours. After the long wait, the nerves and anxiety, when I finally saw the doctor at about 7, I cried when he suggested a chest x-ray to rule out pneumonia (my husband had received that diagnosis earlier in the week). I called my brother, not wanting to worry my mom, and God glimmered and calmed me through my brother's even-keeled voice. I was reminded that God was taking care of my children.

I drove thinking we could get naps in and relax until we had to pick up my eldest. After pleasing the employees by choosing Chick-Fil-A, I finally went home. As I was eating my breakfast sandwich, and evil thoughts came to my mind, somehow mystically they were stopped from fully forming. I felt a little less stressed, a little lighter.

Later that day after a very short nap and an email check, I made contact with the baby's doctor and she told me to take the baby to the ER again because she didn't like how he sounded (wheezing and coughing once again). I didn't hold back and just said, "noooooo" in a playful, yet serious tone. She said there was nothing available at the doctor's office and wanted me to go to Children's Hospital. I was quiet. She said, "how long will it take you to get here?" I said, "20 minutes." She was skeptical, "are you sure?" "Yes," I said sounding sure. "Give him a nebulizer treatment and come in," she relented.

On the way around the beltway, I looked at the burnt orange, canary yellows, crispy browns, pines, and shades of burgundy and saw God's face and felt His warmth; the trees became little fires leading the way and warming my heart.

We didn't have to wait long at the doctor being this was our third visit this week (1. Monday, with Elijah--who had the flu, 2. Thursday (he vomited the night before and had diarrhea the day before that and had been coughing at night and during naps for the last two days) with Ezra who
"probably just has a stomach virus, if he gets worse, call, but he's a picture of health, look how happy he is and 3. then today wheezing and coughing). His oxygen level was borderline. He seemed to have strider when he inhaled, a high-pitched sound at the larynx; maybe the cartilage in his throat isn't mature or is inflamed or something is wrong with him and we gotta get it fixed.
"Go to Holy Cross' ER; I'll call ahead," she told me and informed they would give the baby a steroid for the strider. "So, I won't have to wait long?" "No you shouldn't," she sounded sure.

She sent us to our second ER in the same day. I went around the beltway a little more holding it, whatever it is, or was together.

A few days before on this same beltway, Elijah was pointing out trees to me, "Look at that one mama, isn't it pretty?"
"Yes, it's beautiful," I replied.
"Look at that orange one," he continued.
"Isn't God amazing?" I told him, asked him.
Confused, "why do you say that?"
"Because he made all of the beautiful trees," I explained.
"I think God is smiling at you." my insightful son said.
"Why do you say that?" I said, as it was my turn to be confused.
"Because you said, God was amazing."
I smiled at my son's wisdom and love. This time around the outer loop, I recalled his words and felt God again.

In our second ER, waiting for our third consultation. I thought of how much worse this situation could be. He is breathing and pulling my hair. We were really blessed, this is small, this is one day out of many.

And my cell phone rang. I missed the call, but listened to the message from a number I didn't recognize. One co-worker told another co-worker about my day and week and he was calling to check in on me. God didn't shout, he spoke softly and simply through those he gave me.

I waited and waited, talked to a cheerful gentleman who had been waiting longer than me but kept smiling and talking.

We finally made it back to the pediatric ward. The doctor saw us immediately, but the nurse was so backed up we had to wait for over an hour and a half for a steroid to reduce his strider. I eventually went into the hallway and asked for some explanation. I saw other rooms with other small children and understood. But I kept our door open so we could be remembered.
We got our medicine and two more prescriptions to add to our growing list and were on the other side of rush hour traffic on the inner loop.

I drove home and returned calls.
How does one county have a great hospital with a pediatric ER ward and the adjacent county a facility where everyone is in the same line and the admin. staff would prefer you weren't there, and the doctor fails to fully treat my child?
Why do we live in the inferior county? Why?

I exchanged my oldest son for the prescriptions with my husband (who would drop them off for me so I wouldn't have to lug my 22 pound love bug out again) and I finally drove home. My sweet child asked me how my day was and told me he missed me. Whispers of God's love shining through my child.

My children are in bed and the baby is not coughing. This day is over and God is here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

On seeing beyond the mask.

One of my colleagues always has the best days. Every day is a great day for this man. All of my other coworkers can tell you exactly how Mr. Norton's day is and imitate the inflection used to convey how great he is. It's inspiring to have that kind of consistent positive response from an individual you work with, especially when work, co-workers and clientele can be so draining. It makes you smile and sometimes even reassess your own attitude.

Today his mask shattered at my feet. He revealed how tired he was and began to share all of the reasons why.

He reminded me of Dunbar's "We Wear the Mask," which is about the racism black Americans experienced (and their second-class citizenry) at the turn of the century. The lines of the poem can speak to any time period, any oppressed group, any individual. How many of us at one time can relate to,
" With torn and bleeding hearts we smile?" Most people tend to be transparent and very vocal about how they feel. I wonder if the louder the screeching then maybe the torture has been spoken into existence or into hyperbolic proportions.

My colleague didn't tell me his heart was torn and bleeding. Rather he told me about his wife's medical condition, her loss of memory, the issues with doctors, insurance and his day-to-day existence. He then told me about how he usually doesn't share with people like this, "but there is something about you..." he shared. I told him, God had given me this gift... We both shared a smile in this moment. We were able to glue his mask back together before he left the building.

But the moment of his story stays with me and I'm reminded of what we hide and what we choose to reveal. I'm reminded of Dunbar's words.

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be overwise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

Friday, October 2, 2009

On the taste of fall...

When my Chai tea or pumpkin spice latte is in a paper cup with a solo lid, I don't get to stick my nose into the cup and breathe in the scent of fall as I do when I'm drinking from a mug.

I had a mug of Chai tea this evening and I sniffed before each sip as though the tea was a glass of Merlot. I didn't swish, but I slowly became intoxicated by the warm spices mellowing in my soy milk.

My bare arms and brown cheeks tasted autumn as it kissed my skin with its crisp air and calming breeze.

My eyes imbibed fall when they saw God's paintbrush dab at the trees, as He began to makeover my neighborhood.

My ears drank in the crinkling of sun-kissed leaves beneath my patent leather wedges.

I inhale autumn and let it wash over me and love it's deliciousness.