Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A gift of pain


(If you come to this blog for political commentary, I have to warn that I am not in that mode today. Look at other posts.)

I spent 8 hours during last night helping a friend get admitted to a big university hospital. This could be a rant about Medical/Medicare; she is disabled, indigent and covered by both programs; certainly if she'd had private insurance it wouldn't have been such a struggle to get attention to her. But, confronted by her insistent demand for care, the hospital staff eventually responded with professional commitment and some ingenuity.

The experience moved me to write this:

Yesterday my friend gave me the gift of participation in her pain. She is sick and she hurts. I cannot help her, but I can be with her.

Thanks to a practice acquired when young, I know the discipline of "being with." This is not a sentiment, or a virtue if virtue is understood as a choice. It is just an acquired habit.

I believe that being with each other's pain is what love is. It is how we know that underneath it all, somehow existence is good.

None of this makes it hurt her any less. Sometimes she knows she is blessed.

It also hurts me. That proves to me that "being with" is not an illusion.

Darned if I know what that is doing on this blog, but there it is.

1 comment:

Marshall said...

Never underestimate the gift you give in "being with." I know you know that, but as one for whom "being with" is my vocation, I can affirm the power and the grace in your gift.

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