Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.6.19)
Rev. Dr. Steven Koski
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Sitting in the corner, I witness the nurse lean in close to her patient and gently say, “This machine tells me how your heart is doing. I am wondering how your other heart is doing, you know, the one that feels, hurts, gets scared, anxious and can easily get discouraged. Tending to the heart connected to everything that matters most to you may be even more important to your healing than tending to the heart connected to these machines. So, when I put on this stethoscope to listen to your heart, please know it’s safe to tell me how your other heart is doing as well. That might be even more important for your healing.”
Psalm 139 says, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths of hell, you are there.”
I’m sad today. My heart hurts. I cling to the words of the Psalmist reminded the fundamental nature of Divine is not contingent on our mood. We can be sad, tired, angry, anxious, afraid, stressed. The current state of our reality doesn’t change ultimate reality. Ultimate reality is a Divine Love from which we can never be separated.
I’m sad today. I’m going to let that be ok. I’m not going to pretend. I’m going to lean into my sadness with tenderness. Strength isn’t the willpower to overcome our struggles. Strength appears as we extend grace to ourselves in the midst of the struggles. The unexpected strength to hold steady against the winds that try to knock us over comes from telling ourselves it’s ok not to be ok. No one needs the extra burden that comes from convincing ourselves we’re lacking or doing it wrong. We can be sad and brave. Tears are sacred. They come from hearts that have the courage to risk love. Glennon Doyle wrote, “What if pain – like love – is just a place brave people visit.”
I am sad today. My heart hurts. I’m going to remember the promise that Love is sitting next to me. Love’s shoulder gently rubbing against my shoulder. That’s enough for now.