I pray this new Advent season sees you and yours blessed with a fresh awareness of God’s joy upon your heart, blurring out any hard times of the year – the way a pretty snowfall gently erases the landscape till smudging it to wonderland pearl and setting pathlights of anticipation in twinkling glow before you.
As for me, I’m SO ready for savoring the candlelight in windows and on trees, basking in the silvery glow of White Christmas and Chestnuts Roasting! For 2015 cycloned through my household much as all Disneyland fans might term “Toads Wild Ride.” You know… you get on a seat unsuspecting and suddenly find yourself thrown here, there, up, down, flying through the darkness till you nearly lose direction…
I won’t go in to all the dark and sorrowful moments, for this is meant to be a letter of cheer and hope. But to summarize, the call came in the first days of February, whisking me across the country to my dad and sister – where dad had just been admitted to the hospital. Thinking it might simply be a few weeks and then he’d be home, I never envisioned what would turn into a thunder-rolling three full months continuous hospital stay with a few side excursions to rehab and as many months in home care…
Just to set the scene for miracles, I want to briefly picture for you one of the loneliest, bleakest most hope-wringing spots in this year — the hellish sights and sounds of the rehab. I don’t care how nice a place like that can seem on the outside, it is a living nightmare for all who are squeezed two, three in a cheerless room there. Like finding yourself still sane, but somehow locked into Jane Eyre’s attic with the mysterious, unseen, raging Grace Poole as your cell mate.
Night and day, nearly unintelligible, wrenching wailing winds itself down the halls from who knows where, beseeching God and anyone listening for help. Once, a poor. unsupervised elderly woman who spoke no English suddenly appeared in Dad’s doorway, clutching a body-sized rag doll with long spindly legs. Tears running down her face, she obviously felt the terror of a little child who is lost and unable to find her parents or her way back home. In my limited Spanish from high school days, I managed to decipher her predicament, but couldn’t find words enough to console her. “Donde dorme?” (Where do you sleep?), I tried. Her eyes lit up as she streamed words I didn’t fully know.
My sister ran to get a nurse and soon she was being led back to a completely different wing… but the next day, there she was, wandering down hallways she didn’t really know…
Throughout the day, though mostly at night, many patients line the hallways so thickly in their wheelchairs, it is difficult to pass through. Blank stares on faces… others crying softly. One, appearing to consider herself all dolled up in her pink and green crocheted hat, slips her medical gown up over knobby knees and smiles invitingly as guests walk by. Another holding tightly to her toddler-sized baby doll, converses nonsense and laughs cheerily to it. Picks up it’s tiny hand and waves it to passersby.
The noise of blaring TV’s (as many as three to a room, all blasting at the same time on different stations) – it barely stops for a breath. At certain times, rockin’ music screams through overhead speakers up and down halls… Y. M. C. A.!!!!!… making guests rush to the door to try and shut it out somewhat. But – what of those poor souls stuck in their beds with no visitors, no one to get up and close out the high decibels if they want to?
“O, Lord,” I remember sighing deeply one early evening of our usual wearisome 12-hour day bedside Dad – “Can’t we get a little peace! Breathe Your hope in here!” My sister had gone home to prepare Dad’s dinner (the food in that place was not only indigestible and sometimes undecipherable as to it’s content, but always riddled with salt, fat, and everything that kept his poor roommate completely bound up). Dad appeared to be sleeping, but mostly I think he was just shutting his eyes to misery round him.
Just then, an untypical quiet fell over the hallways. Lights seemed dimming for the evening. The only sound was a soft murmur of nurses at the other end of the wing. The sudden calm of it felt like a blanket, soft and warm from the dryer, falling over us from Heaven’s hands.
From my hard card table type metal chair, I watched then as the Asian patient across the hall wheeled himself out for a breather, where he sat quietly for a moment, pausing in the break. When, suddenly, he opened his mouth to pour out the most beautiful, tender, heartmelting song.
I couldn’t understand his words, sung in his own language. I did not recognize this incredibly gorgeous melody. But oh! I understood his heart of worship. It was as if he were sitting alone out on a veranda somewhere, night breezes gently lifting his hair, stars turning his heart upward.
I just knew it was so… felt the Holy Spirit pouring Himself up and down the hallway with such wondrous light, in and over my dad, over his poor, most often disgruntled, grumbling 90-something roommate.. and over me. I never wanted it to stop.
My dad opened his eyes, looked towards the door, wonderingly. I nodded to him as we both just soaked in this voice, this song of glory. I thought I’d seen the man watching a praise type program earlier, but it too had been in his language, so I hadn’t been sure. But there was just no mistaking his heart here and now. On and on he sang, gently, lovingly, gifting the night as with Morningstar song.
Yes, like the star over Bethlehem, over that unsavory, probably somewhat dank, stable cave, the spirit of Christmas lit a moment there in that forsaken-feeling rehab in the middle of February – a moment of angel song I will never forget. The way it seeped weariness from my tired bones, discouraged heart. The way the man seemed oblivious to all but the One he suddenly felt like singing to… and so he just DID…
Thinking of Advent… I wanted to share this remembrance with you today, to encourage you in all the dark and sorrowing and hurtful places of where you might be right now… or have been this year —
Look for the wonder and Glory to appear!
Listen for the fife and the drum announcing Christ’s birth!
And may our hearts be ever ready to pour out to Him, that He may use the gifts He has put in us each as worship that will shine forth to others in need of His quieting love, his songs of rejoicing, his promise to be with us always. Christmas on parade every day…
Hold “merry” close as you listen for His heart in this day, just for you!
© Pam Depoyan
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Read my introductory Advent post and follow this series of “you’ve got mail” here…
http://3dlessons4life.com/ Thought-Provoking Thursday
http://www.gracedsimplicity.com/ Hearts for Home
http://www.faithbarista.com/ One Word Advent
http://www.prairiedusttrail.com After My Coffee
http://jenniferdukeslee.com/ Tell His Story
http://womenwithintention.com/ Women with Intention
http://tsuzanneeller.com Live Free Thursdays
http://www.susanbmead.com/ Susan B. Mead
http://www.janncobb.com/ Saturday Share & LinkUp