One band he's been following is a local Christian band called Addison Road. I'm not in any way qualified to opine about their music; I'm a classical music geek, and don't really get into much else, except for a handful of tunes to use when I'm exercising. But I have enjoyed reading the blog written by their female vocalist, Jenny Simmons. Jenny and her husband (also in the band) have just had their first child, a girl, and Jenny has been writing about her pregnancy and the recent birth of their baby (induced labor, unexpected C-section, etc.) with her usual down to earth humor and illuminating faith in God.
In the midst of this post detailing it all, though, she just about made me cry when she wrote about life, death, and hospitals--and I'm not the sort of person who gets weepy when I read things on the Internet, believe me. But she writes with great beauty and wisdom (italics in original):
But my floor of the hospital was about life. Little babies everywhere. And I found myself slightly annoyed that there were so many babies. Because in that moment everything came down to this one child I was bringing into the world. And I wanted everyone to stop and be in awe. I wanted everyone to act as though this were the first child ever born. That this was a big deal. That the world would never be the same because this little girl came quietly into its midst.But the world kept going on around me. The construction workers out my window kept drilling. The cars kept driving. The nurse kept coming in and giving me shots in my butt (as if she did not understand that my body was a holy vessel that had just accomplished something miraculous) and even my friends who came to visit left and went home to their normal lives. The world just kept going.And I thought about that a lot in the hospital. The life. The death. And the desire we as humans have to want to scream, "STOP! Something big is happening to me here!"Why can't everyone just stop for a minute? Why does the world keep going even though you and I are facing mountains or valleys? Won't someone stop with me?Even though the world keeps going during those intense moments of joy and pain, there is a God who is ever-present and mindful, and He stops. He stops with us. He cries in the pre-op room with the couple who are staring death in the eyes. He stops to comfort them. He stops to be there in that moment when everyone else keeps going as if nothing life-changing is happening. He stops.He stops to be present in that surgery room watching with delight as His little daughter Anniston sees the world for the first time. I am convinced He smiles. He tears up. He is overwhelmed with her beauty and gentle spirit. He stops with me when I am looking at her trying to comprehend this little miracle. He lets me know that He is there. That he is amazed. He stops.He stops with us. He creates space that the world does not give us. And He rejoices and mourns in those moments with us as if we were the only people on the universe with Him. He stops.
I was thinking about this, about the loveliness of it, and I suddenly thought about what we Catholics call the works of mercy in a new and different way.
The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are, of course, as follows:
- Feed the hungry
- Give drink to the thirsty
- Clothe the naked
- Shelter the Homeless
- Visit the sick
- Visit the imprisoned
- Bury the dead
- Instruct the ignorant
- Counsel the doubtful
- Admonish the sinner
- Bear wrongs patiently
- Forgive offenses willingly
- Comfort the sorrowful
- Pray for the living and the dead
It's easy to see the works of mercy as "to-do" lists which are ultimately for our benefit, but to do this is to miss the point, I think. We should see them as a call to stop, for a minute, to come to someone else's aid because we see Christ in the other person, and because we know that He has already stopped to be with him in his hour of need. The Good Samaritan was the one who stopped to help his neighbor; the beloved disciple was the one who stopped at the foot of the Cross, setting aside his own fear of the authorities when the other disciples could not.
At the hour of our deaths, when we face judgment, Christ is going to ask us if we stopped. Did we stop to feed Him, to clothe Him, to shelter Him? Did we visit Him when He was sick or in prison? Because He was there--He stopped to be with His children. Did we stop? Did we see Him in them, and stop to help?