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“I’ll be here on discharge day”

by davesandel on July 6th, 2021

Tuesday, July 6, 2021                         (today’s lectionary)

“I’ll be here on discharge day”

In the course of the night, Jacob arose and sent his family across the stream, with all his possessions. Then Jacob was left there alone, and SOME MAN wrestled with him until the break of dawn.

It’s one of my fears, that I’ll lose my wallet or my phone. A couple weeks ago I lost my phone case, which held the credit card I mostly used. After I cancelled the card, I drove back across my route the next morning and found both the case and the card right in the middle of a busy intersection, where I lost it when I opened the car door to check if I’d left anything on the car roof.

The “man” could not prevail, so he wrenched Jacob’s hip socket. “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” Not until you bless me, Jacob said, and then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have contended with both divine and human beings and have prevailed.”

Yesterday I left my phone in the hospital bathroom. This I’d thought about often: that in my frequent forgetfulness I’d do exactly that. But in this case I remembered and went back, and there the phone still was. Oh my goodness. I like to think my mind is young. But …

So I take precautions. I will continue to take precautions, but I’d do better to simplify, simplify, simplify. I don’t need to carry much with me. These Old Testament stories pound the lesson home.

I’ve seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared. At sunrise and for the rest of his life, Jacob walked with a limp.

Jacob, nee Israel, earned that limp, you might say. Clearly, it was God’s gift to this descendant of his grandfather Abraham and Isaac, his dad. The remorse he felt about his betrayal of his brother Esau didn’t erase the bitterness between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But I think it pleased God.

In justice, I shall behold your face, O Lord. I call upon you, for you will incline your ear toward me and answer me.

Only Angela of all the stunning cadre of our nurses has acknowledged being Jewish, and she only discovered that in her adulthood. Her grandmother was born in Vienna and survived the Holocaust by disclaiming her own ancestry. Then when she moved to America she kept the secret buried deep inside her own memory. When she was near death she spoke at last of her childhood, her family’s worship on the Sabbath, their visits to the synagogue, the Passover feasts. “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Her family thought she was speaking in delusion, but soon they realized her memories were clear and consistent, and accepted their truth, and I think her grandmother must have died in peace.

At the sight of the crowds, Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd. He went about among them, curing every disease and illness.

As I was leaving last night, Jocelyn hailed me from the other end of the wide hospital hallway. She had my fallen Cubs hat in her hands. “Everyone in my family would love you,” she said. “They’re all Cubs fans.”

Nearby Julie was handing out food trays. I hugged her and said goodbye. She finally has a day off Tuesday. Just that afternoon she had brought us a special tray of two baked sweet potatoes with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and a piece of grilled chicken smothered in gluten-free gravy. It was beautiful and tasted great; it might have been created in a mighty fine kitchen leagues away from any hospital.

I asked Jocelyn if she was working Tuesday. She nodded. “I’ll be here on discharge day.” Oh, yeah, is that happening? “I think so,” she said.

I hope so. Margaret hopes so. God only knows. There’s no hurry. We have more than enough.

Hide me in the shadow of your wings. When I awake, I shall be content in your presence. (Psalm 17)

(Genesis 32, Psalm 17, John 10, Matthew 9)

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