Monday, April 13, 2015

A Spiritual Sunday at the Hospital

My little sister's baby girl is in the hospital right now. She just had surgery to correct her cleft palate. She can't leave the hospital until she drinks a bottle--and she just won't drink that bottle. She's such a cutie though.

Look at this little girl. Healthy, strong, imprisoned by her refusal to drink the bottle!

Yesterday as we left the hospital, we passed a family and a grand piano in one of the lobbies. Two parents were caring for two brothers. Both of the boys were blind. One of the boys was in a bed, sidled up to the piano where he was playing as much as he could on his side. He'd just had surgery on both hips.

My dad and I stopped to listen and talk to the family. We learned the story of the boys and listened to the young boy play different songs. The boy would interject, "John​, do you like boogie woogie?" (cue the boogie woogie)  and then "John, isn't this dramatic?" followed by a little Rachmaninoff.

My dad kept his sunglasses on in order to hide his tears. He would talk to the mom and the boy about blind blues piano players throughout the ages--because my dad's greatest talent is knowing every random fact about everything. (Never play Trivial Pursuit with him. He will dominate. )

I just kept talking to a minimum. I wasn't crying because of their ailments or struggles. I was crying because the family was at peace, enjoying their time with one another. There was a perceptible gratitude in every moment together. The father held the brother in his lap. The mother bragged about her son's perfect pitch. "Mom, this note needs to be tuned." I leaned against the piano, enjoying the show, and feeling an overwhelming joy at their family's happiness.

The boy at the piano went from one song to another, and as he moved up and down the keyboard, his mother would slide his bed up and down so his young hands could reach the proper octaves. The love those parents felt for those children was indescribable and you could feel it hanging in the air, affecting the energy of everyone who stopped to listen. I felt like I was in the presence of flesh and blood angels. All four of them.

 After we left the hospital, we went to church. I usually love church, but yesterday was frustrating. We sat in the balcony and leaned over to listen to the testimonies. I was distracted thinking of the spiritual experience I had just had. I was thinking of my sister and her sweet baby. I was distracted by the beautiful colors. Many of the testimonies were beautiful.

 There were a couple of testimonies that grated. It was just difficult listening to people complain about their trials after feeling the peace and joy of this beautiful family, smiling with gratitude despite all of their struggles. I know  that we are called to mourn with those that mourn, but a testimony is a proclamation of faith--not a list of struggles. I know that from our struggles, we often feel miraculously strengthened, and I can testify of that myself. It is a part of my faith. But yesterday, I felt that the ratio of complaining to faith, was a little off. I'm feeling really judgmental right now. I'm being really judgmental right now. I just wish that people of faith could find the faith to embrace the happiness they have instead of constantly harping on the happiness that they don't have.

The mother shared the reason they were in the hospital that day, but she also reveled in the music of her talented child. The father held his son with love. They didn't shy away from articulating their fight--but they also didn't shy away from enjoying their blessings.

If you pray, please pray for my little niece Summerleigh that she will be able to eat so she can go home. Please pray for this family that they will be able to continue to enjoy their time together in health. Please pray for me that I will have more empathy for those struggling. I realize I'm being judgmental. I just wish that I could have felt more faith shared over the pulpit yesterday.


Nancy Roche said...

I think one major cause of the "complaining" is a lack of compassion in our lives. They come to the pulpit and tell their sorrows because it's a captive audience and nobody else will listen. Sometimes we just need to be heard. That need can make us very inconsiderate, but it's almost impossible to ignore.
When I was a teenager I realized that when people fish for compliments it's not because they're obnoxiously egotistical, but because they are so painfully insecure that it leaks out. The best way to help them was to just give them reassurance. I think it's the same way with people who misuse Fast & Testimony meetings. There will be a time when the Spirit teaches them, or a priesthood leader does, but our work is to listen, to hear their need, and fill it. Unless they babble nonsense for ten minutes well after the meeting should have ended. Then we get to roll our eyes, shuffle our papers, cough, and generally express displeasure.

Eve said...

Well said! Thank you! My dad told me a story about someone asking the Maharishi about what karma someone was having to burn when they were being particularly annoying. He replied, "It's not their karma--it's yours." This made me chuckle. I reacted poorly when the one person kept going on and on. I pulled out a coloring book and just started coloring. I was tired of giving her my time and attention. I should have felt MORE compassionate after the experience in the hospital. I guess I just want to see people allow their faith to do more for them in those moments. But it is my problem. If I don't reserve the right for others to have bad days--then I ruin my own right to be a baby. This will not do well for me in the future when I fully intend to be a big ol' baby. Because I'm human like that.

Nancy Roche said...

I made faces at the choir when she launched into another story, as if I've never talked too much. You're right: we should be more patient because someday that'll be us.