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Give us this day our daily breath

by davesandel on June 29th, 2021

Tuesday, June 29, 2021                                  (today’s lectionary)

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

Give us this day our daily breath

In those days King Herod laid hands on some members of the Church to harm them.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. And all the King’s horses and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Leaving the hospital last night I felt like Humpty, and Margaret did too. So many small crazed cracks in our shell. Like the elephant who couldn’t move unless the mouse scratched his ear, Margaret is kept in hospital until her legs and feet stop swelling. And now she can’t eat because her mouth has become a mazy haze of sores and slices, mostly below the skin. Such tiny problems when her heart and lungs and kidneys are growing great. (Well also, she can’t catch her breath very well when she speaks. Her lungs sound great to the docs, but when she tries too long to talk, she has to stop.)

Peter was arrested and kept in prison, and fervent prayers were made by the entire Church.

Who was Humpty Dumpty? King Richard III was a humpback king. Predominating opinions about the English nursery rhyme say that Humpty was either Richard III or a famous cannon in the eighteenth century. Let’s go with Richard, in his winter of discontent. Because like Margaret, as he said so well in 1485:

I, in this weak piping time of peace, have no delight to pass away the time, unless to see my shadow in the sun, and descant on mine own deformity. (Oh how I) hate the idle pleasures of these days (Act 1, Scene 1).

We do sing, as Richard claimed to do, but after joy in mornings, yesterday we sang to edge away from anger or despair. Oh, Lord, how long? Oh, Lord, thank you! Give us strength. Release us from this tyranny of expectation and fear. Put Humpty back together again. Won’t you do it, Lord?

In a moment our singing hallows the prayer, and we no longer demand. “Give us this day our daily breath.” Come, Lord Jesus. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell from his wrists.

Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.

Put on your cloak and follow me. So Peter followed him right on out.

Tara is one of our favorite nurse aides. She is the only one of anyone who Insists that each of us be Wearing a Mask before she comes in to measure Margaret’s blood sugar (it was 109). When she told us to put on our masks, I recognized her right away. “Hi, Tara!” She was amazed we were still in the hospital. We had not seen her for days.

A while back she had been in the hospital too. She said she was a terrible patient. She tore the IV out of her arm and other unimaginable acts. Her nurse came back to the room. “’Oh, I see you’ve torn out the IV. Hmmm.’ She made me wait an hour before she put it back in. What goes around comes around.” And she laughed her outrageously joyful African-American laugh. In that laugh the sweet mouse scratched the elephant’s ear. Our own Humpty felt less broken, into not quite so many pieces.

Oh, yeah. That’s what I’m talking about. Life sucks, and then Tara comes and makes us all laugh.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him. The Lord stands by me and gives me strength, and I am rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Driving home, traffic is light. Pulling into Evolve Apartments, a light rain begins to fall. Climbing out of the car, I’m ready to write and rest. Laura feeds the birds in the apartment next door. “How is Margaret?” She really wants to know.

And so I tell her, all the frustrations of the afternoon, our needlessly interrupted nap time, the inability of our nurses to remember Margaret’s mouth (no, that’s not fair, but it’s how we felt), the stuckness we felt when we thought we were Out of There, then weren’t. And when I spoke and watched Laura’s eyes almost fill with tears, I felt my body relax.

I remembered the words we pray and share: There is no hurry. We have more than enough. God is good. All the time.

Now then so sweet come Shakespeare’s words:

True hope is swift, and flies with swallow’s wings; kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings. (Act 5, Scene 2)

Laura asked what she could do. “Make a lasagna when Margaret gets home,” I suggested. Gluten-free, I forgot to say.

“And eat some of it with us.” So Laura smiled, and she said yes.

(Acts 3, Psalm 19, Galatians 1, John 21)


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  1. Donna Skaggs permalink

    So sorry the journey has it’s unexpected curves and steps forward and back.
    Margaret’s body has been under siege from the infection, the extensive surgery, etc. That may seem like one step forward and 2 steps back. I assume mouth sores may be secondary to the very powerful antibiotics and possibly a yeast infection?

    Good things:
    1)They aren’t rushing to discharge her because insurance won’t pay to keep her in the hospital

    2) you are all warriors with strong faithfulness. I’m certain I may have caved much sooner.

    Peace in Christ,

    • davesandel permalink

      I think you’re right about mouth sores … and the good things! Thanks, Donna.

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