There was a blood drive at the hospital yesterday morning. I saw a cardiac ICU doc coming out of the donation room and a cardiac acute care nurse walking in. One was starting her day, the other ending hers. Of course they were giving blood. Here they are, hour after hour working with patients and families who are going through possibly the hardest moments of their lives here at the hospital, and these two are stopping to give blood. Of course they did. Throughout the day, I saw other colleagues who had “stopped by ‘cause I had a minute. At least it’s something I can do.” That’s who they are. That’s who we are.
There is great power that comes to our lives when we say “yes.”
“Yes” to sheltering in place. “Yes” to 6 feet shared now in everyday interactions. “Yes” to phone calls to folks who are by themselves and may be feeling lonely. “Yes” to picking up groceries for neighbors. “Yes” to looking folks in the eye - `You are not invisible. I see you.’ Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty. Anne Herbert invited the world into this generous thinking way back in 1982 when she was said to have written the phrase on a placemat in Sausalito, CA. Do you suppose it’s been knitted there all along on our hearts so that we would pull it out, dust off the cobwebs and use it now? Now, these many years later, perhaps this can be our north star to guide our days.
Truly, these feel like walking-on-eggshell days. Sometimes I feel like I’m stretching minutes into hours struggling to put together a long, long day. Sometimes I feel like I’m watching a movie that I’m not at all enjoying and think it’s just about time to get up and leave the theater. "The only way out is through," Robert Frost wrote this years ago and it still rings true. How, then are we to make our way through? Robotically? Defiantly? Timidly? Who are we in the midst of this storm? Who will we be, do you suppose when we come out on the other side?
Is it possible to borrow strength from those around us? Can we step out past our fearful, paralyzed places and walk in the steps of those who are going before? It’s like walking through a knee-deep snowstorm and we’re already weary from the journey. And because so often grace abounds, if we are paying attention, there are footprints in the snow already carved out in front of us. Someone has gone on up ahead and made a way for us. These snow steps will serve to guide our path and at the same time, make our steps easier.
My knowing of that 20-something nurse who was walking in to give blood yesterday morning is that she is good at what she does. She is conscientious and efficient. She’s a good communicator and advocate. I’ve seen her go the extra mile time and again on the CACU. And yesterday, after working 12+ hours with cardiac patients she stopped to give blood on her way home. Are we gonna make it through this time of COVID-19? Yes. Will it push us beyond where we thought we would ever go? Yes. Will we be changed by it? Yes. Changed for the better? – Well, the jury’s out but I’ve got a pretty good hunch.