What’s your song?

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Reflection by Molly Gabaldo, HOPE House resident

No AC in August. Violence spiking. No doctor for clinic this weekend. Critically ill patients at work. Internal self awareness and conscience producing undue anxiety. Burn-out is real.

I have learned more about myself this year than in much of my life combined. The decisions that I have made to be intentional about being uncomfortable and challenged have produced in me a higher level of awareness; awareness is exhausting. An excerpt from Thomas Merton’s famous “No Man is an Island” struck me deeply today:

Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling all the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth”

Please excuse the drama of this post, but Merton’s words are just as much of a reality today as they were when he wrote them in 1915. How often do we find ourselves with our faces in our phones, finding any opportunity to fill our mind with anything but a reflective moment, preferring to escape into the lives of others on our Facebook wall? Some of us can’t even go to the bathroom without a scroll down Instagram…you know who you are.  And yes, this is oh so cliche to note the distraction of phones in today’s society to living our lives fully; but this is the reality that we have created.

The constancy that I choose to create in my own life is creating an inability to feel the interface of who God is in my walk, in my day to day. This is the reality of burn-out. Merton goes on to say:

If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music.  If we have no rest, God does not bless our work.  If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will silently withdraw from our hearts.”

When we are so distracted by the trauma, tragedy, self giving or absorption of our world that we fail to pause, we fail a community that longs to hear our song.  This is a reminder to self: to embrace the silence in the same way action is embraced, and allow the music of our lives to move from static sound to melody.

Where’s the love?

Reflection by Sara Haines, a Hope House resident

Almost two months ago, I needed to take a member back to the ER, specifically to the trauma center, to have her stitches removed. The ER sported several amenities…plasma screen in the waiting room, new wheelchairs…not to mention several eager nurses. This environment contrasted severely to my image of a trauma center ER. In our post-work conversations, Molly described people piled in hallways, and patients complaining about lack of service while just down the hall a patient is coding as nurses race to save her. These are just a few regular scenarios she’s shared with me.*

I thought of a passage from gospel of Matthew: “For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt. 5:46-48).

Spacious waiting rooms and ample staff make being nice to patients much easier than overcrowded halls filled with gunshot wound patients. I believe the latter challenges one’s faith and authentic love. Faith that, whatever he or she has to give, God will make it enough, even if it does not appear so to anyone else.

“You people are all so nice,” the member commented to the nurses who assisted her, a valid observation. Yet again I think of the nurses who struggle daily to love the ignorant patient who is tired of waiting for water, while also trying to save the patient who was stabbed and just flatlined. These nurses get low ratings from patients for not giving the patients what they want immediately, if the patient takes the time to rate their service at all.

But even if the ratings do come in low, I am confident that God sees every ounce of love mustered. It’s his perfection we are striving for, not ours, and his perfection is love. I’m two months late of nurses appreciation week, but here’s to the men and women who take up our crosses with us when we are suffering.

*Molly works at Advocate Christ, one of two Hospitals with a Level 1 Trauma Center which received many of  Chicago’s South Side trauma patients. (Trauma care: FAQ,  http://www.uchospitals.edu/pdf/uch_028322.pdf)