We’re All Alive and Nobody’s Happy

I wonder if you’ve seen this YouTube video of Louis CK being interviewed by Conan O’Brien.  In it, he pokes fun at all of us, including himself, who complain about our first-world problems… like getting delayed on our transcontinental flights, and not having WiFi on those same flights.  His point is that everything, all the technology we have, is amazing, but nobody’s really happy.  It’s funny… and convicting all at the same time.  The last time I was complaining about a thrice-delayed flight that would get me home long past midnight, my friend reminded me that it was truly amazing to be sitting in a chair, flying in the air… like a bird.  I watch this video from time to time when I need a reminder that I am losing the capacity for awe and wonder.

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Recently, we had a reminder-moment like that during morning report.  Morning report for our chaplaincy department is the time when we give a quick overview of all the calls that have come through the pager and the office phone in the previous 24 hours. Because of the mission and nature of this hospital, most calls that come through our pager are critical.  Also because of the mission and nature of this hospital, we end up seeing just about everything.  Even so, there are times when even those of us who have been here “for a minute” sit with our jaws agape and say, “You mean that can happen, too?”

I can’t remember what exactly had happened to the patient in question that particular morning, but we sat puzzling out the details for a moment before someone finally made some comment about looking up things we could do to keep ourselves healthier, and someone else made a comment about the very narrow range of lab values and vitals that are considered “normal.”  And we talked about how so often, the response to such bodies-gone-out-of-balance stories is, “Why couldn’t our bodies be made to withstand a wider range of stuff?” or “Why is it so easy for the blood chemistry to fall out of normal?”

The reality, I think, is that our bodies, through the constant, unseen work of our inside-stuff, are so intricately balanced that sometimes it’s a wonder that we continue to be able to function at all for all the stresses we put upon them.  And for all the horrible things that we see coming through our doors, sometimes it is a wonder that as many people leave the hospital alive, bodies having found a new balance and beginning to heal… fearfully and wonderfully made… and remade.

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.  My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. – Psalm 139:13-16

Maybe one day, I will get all ambitious and make a “spoof” video about how we’re all alive and nobody’s happy.  But in the meantime, I remind myself that it is truly awe-inspiring and wondrous that I am alive and healthy this day… that I am breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide, and that my body is silently producing/ recyclng my body weight in ATP so I can move and breath.

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