Nurse Wisdom from the ICU at OHSU (4.7.19)
“What’s right about your life? What are the things you celebrate most about your life? Life in the ICU can be like the blinders you place on horses preventing them from seeing anything except what’s right in front of you. You can lose yourself in the ICU. You fall into a black hole and you forget there is life outside the ICU. It is helpful for healing to draw upon the areas of your life worth celebrating. If one area of your life is broken it doesn’t mean the whole of your life is broken.”
Gratitude is needed most when there seems to be very little to be grateful about. When you see the challenges you face are not the whole story, it helps you live the story you are in with grace and courage.
Forrest Church wrote a book called Love and Death before he died of esophageal cancer. He describes our lives as a stained glass window with many panes.
Each pane looks out into some aspect of our lives. At any time some of the panes are likely to be rosy and translucent. Inevitably, one of the panes of the window suddenly grows cloudy, then opaque. Suddenly, we can’t see any light through that pane of glass. It’s black. Our tendency is to press our nose up against that one dark pane deliberately trying to see through it. Our entire world goes black. With our nose pressed up against the one dark pane where we can’t see anything, all our other lights go out.
The challenge is to tenderly tend to the pane that has gone dark, but not lose sight of the other panes in the window and be grateful for the light that freely flows through them.
Forrest Church said his cancer didn’t impair his capacity to love and be loved. Whatever challenge has darkened a pane in the window of your life doesn’t make sunsets any less beautiful or each day any less precious or miraculous.
The shaky ground we are standing on is still holy ground.
Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “It takes real courage to grieve. It takes spiritual courage to be grateful in spite of our grief.”