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Margaret and the Commando Procedure

by davesandel on June 23rd, 2021

Wednesday, June 23, 2021                 (today’s lectionary)

Margaret and the Commando Procedure

Look up at the sky, Abram, and count the stars. If you can. Just so shall your descendants be. And Abram put his faith in the Lord.

Since June 4, I’ve been to the hospital every day. Of course I could leave, while Margaret could not. I thought of my dozens of visits to Illinois correctional centers, where there are ten or more doors that swing shut behind you when you enter. I could always leave, while the residents could not. Those doors slammed shut and locked behind them.

As the sun was about to set, a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.

But yesterday I did not go to the hospital. I felt guilty and liberated, both at once. I had several counseling appointments, and lots of other stuff to do, but really … I felt so free. I know that’s how Margaret will feel too, in a week or so when the hospital is no longer her home.

She had several visitors today. Our friend Cheryl came for awhile. Together they read a devotion (although often interrupted). Andi visited all afternoon and part of the evening. She brought Margaret pillows, xylitol, and a Japanese fan. She also brought shoes, because Margaret has begun to sit up in a chair, and to walk. These are wonderful, miraculous activities after her five days on her bed of moving no muscles.

When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a flaming torch, and the Lord made a covenant with Abram. “Fear not! I am your shield, and I will make your reward very great.”

Chaplain Sarah came to visit again yesterday, for the second day in a row. Her colleague Chaplain Julie mentioned that Margaret is a spiritual director. They found several things to talk about, but especially their mutual love for the Lord’s Prayer. Margaret wanted to repeat it phrase by phrase after Sarah, because she was mixing it up with Psalm 23.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I hold myself in quiet and silence, like a child in its mother’s arms, like a little child I am content.

Now that particular confusion is hard to imagine, because as I said last week, one of Margaret’s most deeply held loves is for the Lord’s Prayer. Nearly every day during the Illinois covid quarantines, she awoke, knelt and prayed, got coffee, then settled down at the computer to reflect on one part of the prayer after another. It is precious to her. She insisted, “Don’t get my mind mixed up with anything else!” She’ll get to Psalm 23 later.

The Lord remembers his covenant forever.

So yesterday I took a couple naps, sat outside, took a walk, talked with several of my client-friends, and face-timed with Margaret and Andi later on in the day. They showed me Margaret’s “heart pillow,” which every open-heart surgery patient receives to hold close to their chest when they cough. She’s gotten some signatures, including her surgeon Dr. Neely’s. He even drew a picture of the reconstruction he with his team performed inside her heart.

Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord! Look to the Lord in his strength; seek to serve him always.

Dr. Neely also sent me a YouTube link to video of a similar surgery done at the Cleveland Clinic, where the wife of one of our centering prayer companions just happens to be having open heart surgery this week. The 10-minute video shows crucial moments in the hours-long procedure. It’s fascinating, of course, if you’re not too squeamish, and it’s called the COMMANDO procedure. How’s that for a cool name? All those long Latin medical terms, subsumed into COMMANDO!

A rotten tree bears bad fruit, but a good tree bears good fruit.

That metaphor from Jesus applies to hearts also.

(Genesis 15, Psalm 105, John 15, Matthew 7)

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