I remember the days years ago when as a pastor and friend I would sit in rooms with impossible situations. Deep pain, impossible questions, long relationships, holy moments. And I remember a time writing about those moments, barely able to touch the keys for fear of disrupting the pain and peace.
I remember those days, but I don’t have those writing moments as much anymore. Not because I don’t sit with people in impossible situations, with deep pain and impossible questions. I have them too often. Two or three days of them each week as a hospital chaplain.
(I don’t say that to invite sympathy for me. When a person in a hospital room looks at me and says, “you have a tough job,” I look at their loved one, lying in a bed, breathing or not breathing, and then I look back at them., looking into their eyes. “Not as tough as yours,” I say.)
No, I talk about how often I have these impossible situations to remind all of us that there are impossible situations happening around us all the time and we move past them with distraction more than reflection. Which means that we miss the actions we could take that might matter to ourselves and those we love.
For every news report of an event or a statement that makes us scared, there are a 100 actual threats that are within our control. The seatbelt that would prevent the ejection injuries. The paperwork about our wishes that would guide conversations about hospital care.
I talked about it Sunday when talking about learning to pray right so God will fix our problems. I said, for the record, often it’s up to us to fix our problems. If our health problems are because we eat poorly by choice, then we don’t need a miracle. We need to eat better. If our health problems are because we don’t get sleep, then we don’t need a miracle to stay awake. We need to go to bed. If our health problems are because we’ve ignored the counsel of pastors and physicians, then we don’t need a miracle. We need to listen.
Pray for miracles and do the work and the rest that is within our control.
So that I don’t have to visit with your loved ones for preventable reasons. So that I have time to spend with you and your loved ones for unforeseeable tragedies. Or maybe just for a cup of coffee.
Which some days feels like an impossible delight.