Healing Journey in Alabama

Pneumonia of the lingula of the left lung on CXR.
Image via Wikipedia

We all drove from different states,

To see, to see…

We didn’t know what we were

Going to see when we got to the hospital.

 

We knew you had been in a car accident:

At least two broken ribs and possible pneumonia;

We called on the cell phone on our way out of town

Just like we always do, but we caught Bonnie listening

To the nurse say you had pneumonia.  They hung up,

And Jackie lost it.  Grief set in.  Fear set in.  Doubt set in.

 

We talked about what would happen if you died.

What where our responsibilities?  The kind of stuff

You never want to think about until it’s too late.

 

It was a long drive.  Not distance, but emotional.

Jackie was miserable.  She didn’t know if this was
it.

She started thinking back about the good times;

no more of that.  And the horse you had adopted from

the animal shelter, Jackie named him Nugget.  Should

we take him, and how?  We had already talked about

the aged parrots—they would go with us, too.

We’d need a moving van for all this stuff, but whatever.

 

Then we got there.  You were helpless, drugged out on

Painkiller.  Always asleep or on the verge of sleep until
they stopped the drugs.  You started talking out of your
head, nonsense.

Some glimpses of experience, people, but not able to put it all

Together.  You could never figure out where you
were.  “At the old house”, you’d say, or “the house on Weoka Road”.

Never “hospital” or Baptist East Medical Center.

 

But each day, with plenty of prayers, in baby steps, you made progress.

With Bonnie, who had never left your side since the accident, never left

The hospital for anything, taking care of every little need of yours.  With

Family and friends coming to see you, praying for you, even back in Florida, New York, and California, they were praying.

And the very next day, your mind starts coming back, and you sit in a chair, your first time out of bed.  You have gone back and forth with pneumonia, but the staff have been on top of it, doing tests, moving you around, giving you oxygen.

And then you do the unthinkable.  You walk down the hall.

 

You are home now because many others were strong when you could not be strong for yourself.  And God was strong for us all.

 

A Religious Background

Well, let me say first off that I do have a long religious background. I was raised in the United Methodist Church in Miami, Florida. The interesting thing is, being raised in this church did not interfere whatsoever in me keeping an open mind and resisting stereotypes and prejudice, as is possibly the case in some places. After all, Miami is a metropolitan city and a virtual melting pot of ethnicities and an international gateway to people from all parts of the world.

Although I was a child, and like a child, I took part in teasing, cruel jokes, and other immaturity typical of children all the way through adolescence and even young adulthood (and some for the rest of their life), I have learned to think for myself on most subjects, simply by intellectualism, reading a wealth and variety of literature, and by meeting a variety of people from all walks of life, all of whom usually dispel any stereotypes I held onto, even if just a little bit in the back of my mind.

I think we all have prejudices and stereotypes. In some ways, it is a survival instinct. We try to separate the “good” from the “bad” and those who are in “our group” from those who are not in “our group”. It gives us a sense of safety and security, even if this sense is mostly a delusion. I think all minorities and groups who are persecuted by society benefit from “circling the wagons”, so to speak, in order to get support from those who are of like minds, hearts, and bodies, and gaining power from being in a group.

Now, I say all this right off because I really think that, although religious groups can do these things, and maybe some of them do, I don’t think they are really any different than any other group in as far as whether or not they are religious. Now that’s not to say that if they are made up of people who are already very prejudiced and stereotypical, that they won’t reflect those traits in their religious group, but the prejudice and stereotypes do not originate from the religion.

Coming from a religious background as I have, I must say I have learned a lot of very good lessons through the church. I’ve learned to care for the hungry, the homeless, disaster victims, those who suffer from the ravages of war, those who are persecuted because of their race, sex, religion, etc. And yes, discrimination does still exist in our world, and in the church, and this problem is mostly due to one thing: reverence for the canon of scripture.

Scripture contains some pretty harsh things said against homosexuals, and even worse, these things have been blown way out of proportion by our culture in America and across the world. Homophobia is rampant everywhere. That is a challenge for today’s society that still must be overcome.

I want to end with the greatest thing that religion, my religion, has taught me. The man, Jesus of Nazareth, was the greatest man that ever lived. Anyone that has any doubts should read the New Testament Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. These four books will give four different, sometimes overlapping, perspectives on who Jesus was, who he claimed to be, and what he means to Christians. I can tell you in short that Christians believe Jesus to be the Prince of Peace, Holy Lamb of God, Son of God, sitting at the Father’s Right Hand in Power and in Truth. Christians believe that in dying on the Cross in complete innocence, Jesus paid the ultimate price for the sins of the world, thus enabling us all to attain everlasting grace and peace. Salvation is something that is hard to comprehend without faith, but basically it is the attainment of forgiveness for guilt and condemnation that we earn by falling short each and every day of what we could be, what we were born to be, what God created us to be. With salvation and God’s grace and forgiveness, we can come a little closer to becoming his vision for our lives.