Sorrow and Joy

Between Friday and today, there are conflicting and mixed emotions, emotions that tell a lot about the life I have and the life I love.

On Friday morning, I spent four hours with a family whose little girl was coding- that is, doing chest compressions because she has lost her pulse.  She however, had internally bled out and during every compression was pouring blood out of nearly every orifice, including mouth, nose, ears, eyes and anywhere where there were tubes.  It was a terribly brutal sight for the parents as they processed what the hell was going on with their little baby.  I was with them during that traumatic time as the baby refused to stop bleeding, even after her parents declared an end to the unmistakably awful compressions and allowed her to die.  Four hours with the family, raw emotions and tears from family, from some staff.

But that is what I do, and when a mother tells me “thank you for having been here through all of this”, as though I brought even a tinge of comfort in a difficult time, I want to cry in joy and thank God for using me as a tool in his world.  But it is difficult, and the emotions are raw for me too, albeit less than the parents.  I love my job, and I love that I have been called to these places of raw vulnerability and deep darkness to reflect some of the light and comfort we do have in this world.  Which makes the rest of the weekend so much more important, since as a caregiver there in those situations, I have to be extra intentional about self care.

So I came to Abilene this weekend.  Yes, I said it, Abilene.  To see one of the greatest people ever, one of my best friends, Jeremy.  We love to hang out, to cook, to talk about life, to get hip new food in Abilene (which rarely happens).  In fact last night we got “gourmet” hot dog at one of the food trucks in Abilene.  I got a Carolina Slaw Dog and he had the Texan.  They were passable, but it was great having someone to hang with for the night to try something new.  It’s refreshing and encouraging.  And we went to see Moonrise Freedom, which perfectly captured our 12 year old boyish imaginations.  Again, refreshing and encouraging and playful.

And my weekend will continue.  Today, I get to see the church that welcomed me and provided home for years in Abilene while I moved towards my dream.  And they were a church that valued my strengths, that harbored this boorish and sometimes very dark character as I sought life and found it in community, in serving at Hendrick Hospital as a chaplain, in teaching class at Oplin, and finding incredible friends and growth at ACU.  And I will get to have lunch with Maxine, Chuck and Cora, Bill and Rosie- the whole lot of wonderful elderly that ended up becoming my surrogate grandparents after mine had died some years earlier.

These are the mixed emotions from the weekend.  Care for the suffering, the traumatic, the unbelievably sad, and yet the joy of community, the joy of presence, the joy of friendship.  But then again, every day carries these mixed emotions for many of us.  We rise with the cries of a beautiful newborn, but hear the news of the loss of someone we love.  We share a prayer with friends over breakfast, and yet are exhausted by the claims and needs of those around us.  We cry at times in joy and in sadness.  We laugh somedays and lift up laments for the injustices we see around us.  Life is daily full of mixed and conflicting emotions.  But that is okay, because we have a God who walks with us through it all, who shares these emotions with us, who laughs with us and collects our tears.  And that, in the middle of the sorrow, brings joy.

Doing Yardwork

Wow.  I like that.  Got to weed and mow a fairly large front and back yard today, and not just any front or back yard.  It was my yard (well, technically the house is rented but I am no longer a college kid in a rented house with a bunch of college friends).  It was my yard and it needs to look like I want it to look.

It was actually kind of fun, and stress relieving, to sweat through a whole yard and cleaning the backyard with tree cutters, and sweeping the remaining cut grass.  Yeah, I am a little weird.  And don’t put it past me to consider it nostalgic when I get to smell the gasoline.  But it certainly felt good to do some physical work as my mind has been dealing with the grueling emotional and mental work the past couple weeks.

Doing yardwork was also a little special because I had the same kind of nostalgia for when me and Jeremy Hegi would do yardwork back in Abilene, and after every yardwork afternoon we would go and get a burger from DQ or Sonic or something like that.  It brought back those kinds of strange and not that distant past memories.  But what was really funny was how many times I was doing something with the refrain in mind, “My dad would kill me if he knew I wouldn’t do ____.”  Things like weeding by hand and getting upset by the little tiny green shoots coming out of the ground, sweeping the driveway of the clippings, clipping trees instead of just mowing and weeding.

A good day indeed.