Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16Â – The 15th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for Sunday, September 1, 2013
â€œ. . . for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.â€ (Hebrews 13:2)
Andy*, the Harley-Davidson riding, Missouri-born ICU nurse, entered my motherâ€™s room and gently asked her to lift her head. He flipped her pillow.
â€œAlways good to have the cool side,â€ Andy said.
Until a few days before, I didnâ€™t know Andy.
And, for the most part, I still didnâ€™t.
Was Momâ€™s intensive care nurse a stranger?
Was he an angel?
In the Christian Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews cautioned, â€œDo not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.â€ (Hebrews 13:2)
Did I show the Harley-owning nurse enough hospitality; did I thank him enough while he cared for my mother? No, I never invited him for dinner, nor did Iâ€”as someone might in Biblical timesâ€”wash his feet after a long dayâ€™s journey or (in todayâ€™s world) bring him a Starbucks Grande Caffe Mocha. And yet my thanks were authentic and I made every effort to learn names of the ICU nurses, and to show them respect, and to keep each one within my prayers.
Of course, maybe itâ€™s not fair to think of Andy as â€œangelicâ€ because I witnessed him turn a patientâ€™s pillow. But his actions were sweet, kind and appeared to my weary eyes to be extraordinarily thoughtful.
What does it mean to be â€œangelic?â€
As I write these words in the middle of August and in the middle of anguish, Mom is non-responsive in a comfort care room at a Sacramento-area skilled nursing facility. On the last day of July, she visited a doctorâ€”another strangerâ€”for more tests, and more attempts to discern the reasons for her bloated stomach, indigestion and constipation. By Julyâ€™s final moments, she had been handed over to an oncologistâ€™s careâ€”yes, a strangerâ€”and he immediately sent her to the hospital. An â€œunsettled stomachâ€ was (likely) ovarian cancer.
More in-the-hospital tests were taken. Two days after admittance, Mom faced life-saving surgery to unblock her colon. Without that surgery, sheâ€™d rapidly die a miserable death, or so said the stranger who was a surgeon. If the operation succeeded, she might recover enough to eat â€œnormallyâ€ and have a quality of life for . . . Continue reading →