It is interesting how art inserts itself into life at the most seemingly random moments sometimes.
Yesterday morning after I came in from watering the flowers at the Center I found a message on my cell phone informing me that my mother had been taken to the Emergency Room of a local hospital.
My mother has cardiopulmonary disease (COPD) and must be on oxygen at all times. For the past four years she has been living in an independent living center and has been in and out of the hospital for breathing issues. For the past few weeks she has been weaker than usual and has found it harder to breathe. This morning it all came to a head and it was decided that she should go to the ER.
I spent all morning in the ER with her.
The hospital is new, very clean and prides itself on being “green”.
At one point in the ER room a team of three nurses were working on my mother. All three nurses were young with summer tans, wearing dark blue nursing outfits and spoke easily with East Tennessee accents. Two of them were bent over my mother at different angles and the third, who was a student, stood back observing. I sat in a chair to the side with a view of the full length of the bed and my mother reclined on it looking tired and gray, oxygen mask strapped to her face with the oxygen vapor drifting around her nose and mouth. The nurses continued their work around her.
As I gazed on all of this the image of Caravaggio’s “Deposition of Christ” flashed through my mind. The body of our Lord is taken down from the cross and a group of people bend over him at various angles as they lay him out. Our Lord had gone even into death out of love for us and the Father.
We believe and hold that our suffering can be a sharing in the suffering of Christ and that God himself has entered into the suffering of humanity. Therefore we have a hope that moves beyond fear. Because of this Christianity is not naive about suffering – even finding a grace within it.
The eighth chapter of Romans speaks to this reality: “Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
My mother has been stabilized and moved to a room out of the ER. The next few days will consist in a series of tests to determine the source of her loss of blood and anemia. We will see what the next few days bring. Whatever it might be we have hope because we know our suffering is part of the suffering of Christ and we know that our Redeemer lives.