May 2017

Please forgive me if I’ve told you before about a line from a picture book I used to read to our boys. The king was taking a bath and wouldn’t get out of the tub. On every other page was the refrain, “King Bidgood’s in the bathtub and he won’t get out! Who knows what to do? Oh who knows what to do?”

As I write this, my mother has been in the hospital at Cooley Dickinson for a week, beginning with a day in the ER and then non-elective surgery. At 92, her recovery from an operation has its challenges. I have spent hours in her room, knitting, and tearing out rows of mistakes in my knitting. I have conferred with my siblings and with nurses, CNAs, and doctors – all caring, all concerned. The King Bidgood phrase has come back to me. There are times in our lives when we are stuck, waiting, worrying, wondering. “Who knows what to do? Who knows what to do?”

I trained as a chaplain on a surgical floor at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Boston. Twice, I met people who were in the process of moving, the moving van days from arriving, when they suddenly needed surgery. One patient’s family was halfway across the country; another worried how his wife would manage their move across town.

They, and many others I met, were stuck in limbo, waiting, worrying, wondering. They were grateful for the life-saving surgery and had hopes for recovery. Yet there they were.

Time in limbo and waiting can frighten, or frustrate, or numb us. Often, that limbo time marks a transition. Sometimes, we have to just live with the wondering and waiting.

During the week my mother has been hospitalized, spring has actually appeared. Today she asked me, “What’s next?” I told her what was next was that she was going to get better, and she agreed that was a good plan. Arriving home from seeing her today, I put my bare hands in one of our garden beds and pulled up my first weeds. It felt good.

It feels good to serve as your minister.Janets signature