Close your eyes and think about your last hospital visit. What comes to mind? For me, hospital visits don’t rank high on my list of “things to do” on the weekend. Admittedly, they conjure up feelings of sadness, loneliness and even feelings of germ-phobia. (Yes, now that’s sad.) Yet, this recent visit was quite different for Mark and me as we visited Mark’s dad, Pete. We realized after this visit, that sometimes, it can take a hardship to see the face of Christ amidst us.Mark and I sat in Racine’s Wheaton Franciscan Hospital all day earlier this week while Pete received stents to help his heart pump a little better. To our surprise, we felt Christ in our midst throughout the entire day. While it was difficult to see Dad recovering in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) – not his normal energetic self – we thanked God for the moments of grace this day brought. Let me share with you five instances where God was profoundly present.1) In the hallways. It’s not often we spend time in hospitals. But during this visit, we took special note of all the Catholic symbolisms. The crucifix. The large Rosary hanging over the crucifix in the chapel. The statue of St. Francis. Each hallway had a different scripture from Psalms. As we walked the halls thinking deeply about Dad, his surgery and impending outcome, each of these scripture verses provided timely and much-needed comfort… and hope. Equally wonderful, was the time we spent in solitude in the hospital Chapel. What a beautiful gift of Catholic hospitals: onsite chapels!2) In the hospital care. We give thanks to the wonderful staff at Wheaton Franciscan Center – truly a gifted cardiology team, from the surgeons to the nurse staff. Christ-like in every sense.3) In our mom, Beverly. Bevvy has been struggling increasingly over the years from dementia. She relies on Pete for those day-to-day things that most of us take for granted – making dinner, putting on shoes, getting in the car. Yet, it’s amazing the spirit and life in a person that can return when their loved one is in need of care. The ever-so gentle touches Pete received from Bev as she sat at his bedside were as if Christ was right beside us.4) In Mark’s siblings. The gospels this week have been centered on the role of disciples in spreading the good news of Christ. In some ways, Mark’s sisters – Penny and Mary – were the Mandli disciples this week…acting as the messengers in the family, comforting the sick and giving the family hope in what tomorrow will bring.5) In Dad. Mark and I sat in the Chapel and prayed a scriptural Rosary, meditating on the Sorrowful mysteries. After meditating on these mysteries, it was hard not to see the face of Christ in our Dad. The usual strong-statured man who loves a good game of golf, rested in the ICU with little energy…he just wanted a drink of water.Dad transferred out of ICU, and came home last night. He’s going to be okay. We thank God for the outcome of his surgery, and the countless friends and family who prayed for Dad. And, we are also thankful to God for the wonderful gift of making his son, Jesus, present to us in every encounter at the hospital. This recent visit has helped to erase those old memories of hospital visits and replace them with images of Christ. This day, we found Christ in suffering…a pleasant hospital visit, to be sure.
Finding Christ in Suffering by Margie Mandli
This blog was written in early 2012 when the father of parishioner, Mark Mandli was hospitalized for stents surgery. Since then, Pete has recovered and is doing marvelously at 87. While this blog went unpublished for months, today it is dedicated to the parishioners with loved ones who are ill or in hospitals. May the Lord provide strength in every trial.
Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore. Psalms 105
[WRITTEN IN EARLY 2012]