People will often tell you they lose track of time in hospital which is understandable because they are coping with a foreign environment and a totally different routine.
As necessary as hospitals are they can never replace home and often that is what people yearn for in their daily lives. The familiar places we associate with the times when all was well, when life made sense. When there were no long shadows cast by anxiety or worries about health or concerns about the future.
Above all we associate home as a place of comfort and security where we can take rest and refuge from the struggles and burdens of being human, of trying to cope with the difficulties of life.
However in this world we cannot expect to drift through life without being confronted by crosses which we’re challenged to carry on our own behalf or on the behalf of others, especially our families and friends.
I was in the hospital during the week in the new south wing which still takes some getting used to. The long corridors ensure getting from ward to ward feels like walking the two bridges. On a particular ward I thought I recognised one of the patient’s names and duly called into the room hoping to be met with a familiar face. Yet one of the problems I face in the hospital is keeping track of people.
You meet so many men and women and at times you feel you’re encountering an absolute stranger even though you might have met them a few months previous when they had been last admitted.
Well on this occasion upon entering the room I made the simple remark upon seeing the man in the bed, ‘Had I see him before on a previous visit? To which, his wife, who had been hiding in the corner pipes up, ‘Naw, we had a visit from the tall, thin priest.’ I didn’t know which part of the comparison to take most exception too.
I’ve had no luck with the female gender this week, I had put months of time and energy into this particular relationship and then it was all thrown in my face. I probably spent more time than I should on this one relationship and now I know I’m guilty of looking for too much in return, my expectations were too high, in the end they were unrealistic. I didn’t see it coming, nor did I realise how jealous I would become when someone else moved in and took my place in her affections.
For months when I called into the house she had been delighted to see me. In all honesty I was very fond of her. I never thought it would have happened in the first place because it developed from the most unlikely of beginnings and before I knew it we were getting on great.
Then my brother returned home and all of a sudden he was the only one she would look at, but I can tell you this it will be a long time before I walk that dog again, she can lick round whoever she wants but she has burnt her bridges with me.
We have all our burdens and crosses, coping from time to time with disappointment and loss. We can be stubborn and refuse to allow anyone else to help us in our pain. Maybe we’re too embarrassed to show our true face, our true emotions and feelings to those we share our lives with. We might be afraid that if people really knew us, if they could see into our hearts, if they knew the sins and our darkest secrets they at worst would run away from us or in the least look at us differently.
It’s not easy to become childlike and vulnerable enough to entrust our problems and our pain and anxiety to others. We instead carry them without realising the harm they do to us and our relationships with others. Wearing a mask we think we can get through our routines without having to confront the real issues in our lives.
Jesus is asking us to become childlike in our honesty, childlike in our trust. Allowing God to be God means we have to face up to what it means to be his children. None of us are perfect, we’re not always the people we want to be, feeling helpless because we’re unable to change. God approaches asking us to hand over our burdens; he invites us into his healing presence. Unfortunately carrying crosses is a part of being human but Jesus shows us how to carry our crosses in a way which gives life, in a way which allows others to help us in our need and pain.
As children of the one Father we ask for the wisdom and the strength to bring all our crosses before Christ his Son who will never allow us to walk on our own, granting us the courage to reach out to our brothers and sisters so we can journey with each other, one family in Christ.