Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Where Are You? A Bedside Reflection

I sat there by his bedside without him knowing I was there. I watched him as he slept, I watched the movements within me. The nurse came to draw his blood not knowing that the doctor had already done so earlier. They brought a new pack of glucose drip and connected it to the needle stuck in his hand, took a machine and scanned the code on his paper wristband. He had two wristbands with different codes - a bar code and a QR code. And all these while, I sat quietly at a corner, watching, pondering.

The future is unknown; not even the next minute or the next second is known. Not just his life but all our lives too. This is the fragility of life that Man forgets most conveniently as we scurry from one place to another, one appointment to another. 

My eyes welled up as my heart enlarged. People say that a medical patient seem to be less dignified as they are subjected to this and that test, the topic of observation and discussion. But is it true? Even with tubes running everywhere, even labelled with alphabets and numerals written with marker pens on plastic bandages stuck onto one's hand, even when all the depth and richness of one's life experiences seem to be dismissed and one identity becomes encapsulated in just some superficial details encoded in some squarish black spots or lines of different thickness. Even so, here lies a human person still mysteriously remaining in the image and likeness of God. Here lies a person who is apparently God's beloved child. 

But if this is God's beloved child, then it is even more perplexing. And I found myself turning to God, asking, "Where are You? Where are You in all these?" I searched for an answer in the silence rudely interrupted by the beeping rhythm of the machines. Can it be that somehow, amidst all these, God is still present and alive? That He has not left, not even for a moment? It must be. But where is He?

Then came a tiny voice, so gentle and firm, "Am I not here?" And I understood. "Am I not here?" in me to him, as I have come to lend a support, to extend the love of Christ, to pray, to care and love, to accompany. "Am I not here?" in me through whom God continues to affirm of His presence and care. "Am I not here?" also in him to me, as through him, I am challenged to care and love my brother in Christ, to open wider my heart and grow in compassion and faith. In the people who have chosen this line of work in the medical field to care and cure. In the facilities of this hospital that continually upgrades itself to give the best possible care and treatment.

But perhaps, what I had demanded from God was healing as I asked Him at the start, "Would You not do anything? You have the power. I don't. Would You not do something?" And so His presence through me to my friend feels inferior. How often do I dictate how I want God to manifest Godself in the harsh reality of everyday life so that life is made easier, more convenient, and faith becomes less farfetched?

Yet, God is still God and we are still creatures. Perhaps, God answered best my question of where He is in His invitation to surrender to this reality. The reality of my creaturehood in the light of His divinity. Can I, without fully comprehending His ways, without seeing His master plan, still believe without questioning that God's love never fails, even when what is before my eyes looks nothing like the 'love' I want, demand, hope for, pray for, and define it to be? That somehow, in my desire to surrender and live as a creature, discontinuing the pursuit to be the god-in-control, I may then receive the grace to let go and submit, and in this grace, to welcome the very presence of God Himself into my heart. That somehow, to find God, I need to first lose myself.

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