God in the ER

This is a guest post by Cara Callbeck.


emergency roomThere is always drama in an emergency room on a Friday night. I recently found myself in the midst of it all, having to report there on a matter that was not urgent but could become so. It was a long wait as there were plenty of patients in greater need than I. I didn’t mind the wait as it gave me the unique opportunity to sit and observe without much worry or discomfort as the drama unfolded around me. I watched as a young girl was wheeled in to the ER by her friends following a seizure, as a number of elderly patients were brought in by kindly paramedics, as an older wife fretted over her husband who was violently ill awaiting care.

When I eventually got to a treatment area, I found myself in a small ward with curtains closed up all around me. I was left then to just listen. I’m not a good listener and I hate not seeing everything that goes on around me. I was not at all thrilled at being cut off, as it saw it then. Yet, it turns out that it was in listening to the voices around me that I found God that night in the emergency room.

I became aware of a young lady’s voice in the bed beside me. The voice was timid, tired and shaking. And then there was an awful smell. The stench was tremendous and overpowering; it was all I could do not to gag. Almost immediately another voice joined the first in a calm, easy conversation. The voice was soft and it carried a peace and beauty about it. It soon became apparent that the young lady had suffered a medical event that caused (among other things) the stench that now soaked through her clothes and was launching an olfactory assault through the ward. The gentle voice of the attendant went on talking to the young lady in a soft, sweet tone; just simple and kind as she patiently helped the young lady discard the soiled clothing and make her comfortable once again. I heard the voice of God in the orderly caring for her young patient that night. It was truly a voice of love… It made me think of Pope Francis.

pope francis kissing manWith the media frenzy surrounding Pope Francis, we have all seen the famous pictures and videos of our dear Pope touching the disfigured man’s face; we have observed the tenderness of his smile and his gentle touch, we have heard accounts of the lengths to which he goes personally to serve the smallest, the forgotten and the most vulnerable. Pope Francis doesn’t seek this attention, but we watch in awe as though this is something extraordinary, exceptional, maybe even just beyond our grasp. Are we too quick to forget is that this is the simple example of service that Jesus set for us? It seems that what we may perceive as being so exceptional is actually modelled in the everyday life of many people in this world, like the orderly, quietly loving and serving far from the camera, far from any notice or admiration – overlooked. Pope Francis would be proud of the orderly for living this “extraordinary” example in her ordinary life of serving the sick and comforting the frightened each day.  I pray that this model of simple service with great love should never become the exception, because with God, nothing is just beyond our grasp.

Cara Callbeck is a Human Resources professional who writes in her free time. She is a lover of Jane Austen, all things Ignatian, and travelling with her family. Cara lives in mid-Canada with the two greatest blessings in her life (her husband, Rudy, and daughter, Emma) and her dog – a cocker spaniel named Brandy.

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1 reply

  1. I was just in an emergency room last night (accompanying someone else). While it was on the whole very quiet, there were still several very uncomfortable moments- and that is when, inevitably, I encounter God in the patience and care of the attendants, the nurses, the doctors, even the receptionists. It was hard, but I tried to allow myself to be open to God’s presence there during the several hours I was waiting.

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