On the first Sunday in Lent, we hear the reading from Mark where Jesus is sent into the wilderness. Describe a ‘wilderness time’ in your life.
My time in the wilderness was not in a desert in the Middle East but rather in a snow-covered hospital in Massachusetts. It began two years ago when my then 43-year-old son called to tell me he had collapsed at work and had been taken to a hospital. I was mobilized to help my son by calling his father and sending him to Boston on the next flight. I arranged for Miss Rose to stand in for me at work, got Yuhadhi’s permission to leave, and got Stephen placed on the parish prayer list. I gathered my personal prayer partners at work and they prayed for me and my son before I left. For me, arranging for prayer was even more important than getting my plane ticket. I did not know what Stephen was facing except that his kidneys had shut down.
When I arrived at the hospital Stephen was already on dialysis. Another concern was that he required blood transfusions as he was losing blood. Because of his kidneys failing the doctors assumed his kidneys caused the blood loss and we waited days for the tests that would find the real cause. We watched Stephen get weaker and become more anxious as time went on. His dad and I took turns spending the night with him. I spent most of my time in silent prayer opening my heart to hear God’s voice. I was comforted by His presence. I was surrounded with His peace. Looking back, I am amazed I did not cry at all nor did I feel hopeless or scared. I was supported by prayers from home. I was trusting in God to sustain me.
The medical details are fuzzy now but after waiting ten days for a test that was” not an emergency” the surgeon told us Stephen had an aortic aneurism that could cause his death at any moment and he would need immediate surgery. Stephen was told his chances were 60/40 and he could not think this over he had to decide NOW. Naturally, he chose to have the surgery. His dad, brother and I had just a moment to say our goodbyes before he was wheeled into the O.R. I traced the sign of the cross on Stephen’s forehead and reminded him he was loved by God and to not be afraid as the anesthesiologist took him away.
Still, in this moment, I saw God’s grace at work. During this crisis I saw my family healed. Stephen and his dad reconnected and ended their twenty-year estrangement. My two sons put aside their rift and said their “I love you’s.” My ex -husband who was usually hostile and disrespectful was kind and supportive. For this moment in time, we were one unit focused on our son. Until this week any one of these things would have been unimaginable but for God’s grace.
After a nine-hour surgery we got word Stephen’s surgery was over and was successful. We hugged and cried tears of joy and kept thanking and praising God. I stayed during his recovery period and returned to San Gabriel at the end of that long month. I am still so grateful to those who kept Stephen in prayer and to my God for seeing me through my darkest hours as a mother.
Today, Stephen is doing well. He has a mechanical aortic valve and is able to perform self-dialysis in his home. He also works full time again and is on the list for a kidney. I still pray for him daily, as I do for everyone that I love.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
O God, by your Word you marvelously carry out the work of reconciliation: Grant that in our Lenten fast we may be devoted to you with all our hearts, and united with one another in prayer and holy love; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Read When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner. (Amazon link below)
PODCAST TO CHECK OUT
Click on the link below to listen to an episode of Krista Tippett's podcast, On Being. This episode reflects on the soul in depression.