Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.4.19)
“What brings you joy? That’s a question I love to ask patients. Hospitals can shrink your world to the size of your symptoms and pain. Patients need to be reminded of that larger life beyond their IV’s and blood tests. I love to ask patients what they love, what makes them laugh, where they find delight and what brings them joy. I want to tap into what they are living for and what matters most to them. Calling forth the healing energy of the indomitable human spirit is a thousand times more potent medicine than whatever is flowing from the IV bag. Patients may be too sick to sing or dance. There’s something healing about reminding them of those things that bring them joy and make them want to sing and dance. It gives them something to fight for.”
What brings you joy?
Brother David Steindl-Rast wrote, “You think this is just another day in your life?
It’s not just another day.
It’s the one day that is given to you today.
It’s given to you.
It’s a gift.”
What will make for a good day today? What will lift you to the life that is larger than your problems and concerns? What brings you joy? The answers to these questions don’t magically erase life’s challenges. It connects you with the same energy that animates the grass in the spring determined to grow despite the unending obstacles.
Joy is an act of radical defiance. Joy pushes back the darkness and refuses to allow the forces of despair to have the upper hand. Joy doesn’t deny or minimize the reality of pain and suffering. Joy courageously stares suffering in the face and says, “You’re not winning today. You will not have the last word.” Life is heartbreaking. Joy helps us face the heartbreak without being broken.
Michael Franti said, “We don’t laugh, sing, play and dance to escape life. We laugh, sing, play and dance to keep life from escaping us.”
Gifts of sheer grace are those people who invite tears of laughter in those places where all you know are the tears of heartbreak and despair.