“Bless my heart, bless my soul…”  Easter, spring, and life transitions…are all about resurrection, renewal, growth, regeneration, adaptation, hopefulness, inspiration, transformation, resilience, and thriving.
As we wait for spring to arrive, getting by day by day, hopeful, yearning, and sometimes impatient, maybe the message is that waiting is an active state. What are you doing in your waiting?
Here is Brittany Howard with her band, Alabama Shakes, belting out, Hold On.
May it be so.

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“Some are dead and some are living…in my life, I’ve loved them all”…so sang the Beatles in 1965.

In my life, indeed. As a hospital chaplain resident I have the distinct privilege and horror of doing on call work. Privilege in journeying with folks as they struggle to make sense of their lives when loved ones have died or are dying; privilege in helping people navigate their shock and numbing grief experienced in the sometimes harsh,  artificial environment of an urban hospital (where 60-75% of all Canadians will eventually die)…horror in that sometimes there is almost too much pain to witness and absolutely no words of comfort to be uttered; horror as  with most pediatric code deaths in the ER– when youngsters are brought in and cannot be revived, when they die and are gone,  leaving behind devastated parents, grandparents, siblings and extended family members.

Why on earth would anyone want to work in such an environment? Because it matters. Because even amidst such scenes of agony lie the seeds of exquisite compassion. If I can help one despondent ER nurse to process her sadness (they are not immune)  helping them see that because they ARE sad and upset, they are compassionate beings;  to be otherwise would be truly worrisome for the profession );   if I can bring a few minutes distraction to little siblings who do not comprehend death in the same way as the adults around them by offering my guide dog as a temporary security blanket… then my own recovery through the emotional hours spent with family and beyond, are worth it and meaningful. I walk away with memories.

Some you never forget.  These memories do not lose their meaning. Thank God.

 

 

Yes,  lyrics from the Beatles’ classic, Eleanor Rigby. This song’s haunting cello track sets the mood for a reflective, dark narrative about “broken”  everyday people–unforgettable.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home from work at the hospital and stopped in the lobby of my Oliver apartment building to check  my mail box. We have a typical low-rise lobby set up, with a couple of butt ugly-black vinyl chairs, an equally boring love seat, and a waste bin for the tons of unwanted junk mail that arrive in our  mailboxes daily.

I could not help but notice that someone occupied the floor space near one of the arm chairs.  Tired as I was, I still ventured a polite, “Hi, how are you?”, curious to learn who had parked themselves on the floor there. (I am also legally blind and therefore could not tell if the person was male or female, dressed or naked, with a smile, or bearing a machete)

The quite female voice replied in really halting New Canadian English tinged with a heavy Asian accent (which I shamefully admit,  I am very bad at distinguishing),  “I fix letters”.  Hmm, I wondered.  Then I observed what this small young-sounding woman was up to:

Ming (and that’s my fantasy pseudonym for her) was busily working with all of the rejected pieces, the twenty or so letters that arrive everyday, not the junk that makes it to the bin, but the stuff that gets dumped onto one of the armchairs by tenants who receive mail for former tenants who’ve moved on.  Ming was carefully placing  the assorted envelopes against the wall in a precise manner, according to size and colour perhaps,  and equidistant from each other. Like a house of cards, the montage of mail was precarious; the next person arriving to pick up their mail would likely cause an avalanche of Ming’s work.

Over the course of several weeks, I noticed that Ming had been at the unwanted mail several times, compulsively and obsessively building a display of envelopes leaning against the wall under the bank of mail boxes. What did this mean to her, I wondered. Clearly, it brought her some comfort and relief to engage in the exercise. She struck me as a very lonely person trying to regain order in her mind by performing this ritual.

How many more Mings are there out there?  A lonely, new immigrant who probably has very few resources for mental health services, and not even the basic building blocks of mental health: socialization, a sense of community and belonging, and friendship. “All the lonely people, where do they all come from?…all the lonely people, where do they all belong?”    Maybe the Beatles  asked one of the most important questions of our age.