Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A Promotion

A couple of weeks ago I got what I consider to be a promotion. I was assigned to the Pediatric Team. It excites me because my wife has worked with developmentally disabled children for years and I’m fascinated by her work. I’ve listened to her stories with rapt attention to the way she nurtures those kids and the thrill she gets out of seeing them make incremental progress.

We too had a baby who was developmentally disabled. Rusty has a problem with one little gene that prevents him from processing uric acid properly. We almost lost him when he was 2 months old and I still remember the deep soul ache when I held him or watched him in his crib at the hospital. It’s made him chronically ill for 25 years and Dottie and I have struggled with wanting to coddle him to giving him little shoves out of the nest. We’ve never done that overtly but when his wings don’t work so well, we always dust him off, lug him back up into the nest and nudge him into the air again. It always scares us and always swells us with pride when he gets some lift and happily flutters his little distances.

I was drawn to troubled little babies when I did my residency at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. It’s the only Pediatric Trauma Center in the State of North Carolina and gets the toughest cases in a three or four state area. I requested a 6-month rotation in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as the chaplain. I had 30 babies under my care – some of them less than a pound in weight. Many of them couldn’t be touched because their little bodies aren’t developed well enough to tolerate the sensory input. But I got to hold many of them and the nurses called me their “Baby Holdin’ Chaplain.” In that role I’ve felt more of the power of the Spirit of God flow through me than in any other time as a minister. It’s a feeling of intense love that moves through my body in some mysterious way and leaves me feeling like the cells of my very tissue have been cleansed with the intensity of life at it’s most basic level. I found myself unable to pray to God “the Father.” I was compelled to pray to God as a mother and when I did, I was comforted and nurtured as was, I believe, the baby in my arms.

Mothers were my teachers in that unit. They taught me how to work with unfettered love without getting in the way. At first, I was a little put off by their behavior with me at the bedside. It was a little disconcerting to have a mom talk to me and never take her eyes off the incubator. It was like talking to a person’s ear all the time. They’d lean toward the side that I was sitting while their eyes remained glued to the baby and it’s various robots. Often, I’d just slide a stool over to the incubator, sit listening to the beeping, clucking machines and just be with mom and baby. Then I’d say something like, “Your baby’s beautiful.” Mom would lean the side of her head toward me and say. “Thank you.” I’d sit a minute or two and say, “Do you love her?” Sometimes mom would react as if she couldn’t believe I’d ask such a stupid question but the answer was always, “Oh, yes.”
“Do you feel your love inside you when you look at her?”
“Very much.”
“That’s how God feels when he looks at you.”

Most of the time my line of sight from the side gave me a perfect view of the tear that would well up in mom’s eye from the bottom, wash up across her eye and spill onto her cheek in a little Niagara of love.
“Can I pray for you and your baby?”
Often a hand would grope for mine and grip with white knuckles until I’d finished. Sometimes as I was praying, I’d peek to see what mom was doing and most of the time her eyes would still be glued to the child. What incredible love.

Now you know why I consider my assignment to Peds a promotion.


At Thursday, 23 March, 2006 , Blogger Meredith said...

Dear Ken,

When we feel God looking at us -what incredible love.

And through who's eyes does God see thee?

Meister Eckhart: "The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me."

Sending love, through the eyes...


At Tuesday, 06 June, 2006 , Blogger isaiah said...

Hey Ken....

Here we are! Hope all is well!

At Monday, 19 June, 2006 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

MIss reading your stuff! It always touched the hurt places in my heart.Jan in SC

At Wednesday, 21 June, 2006 , Blogger Surgeon in my dreams said...

Come baaacckkkkkkk.....


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