I am home. On Thursday I went into the Ulster Hospital for a small procedure. It seems to have gone well. They did keep me in for two days but that was more in order to flush out my system than anything to worry about.
It was a small procedure. It was not life threatening. I hope that it clears up a few months of urinary infections and that I can come off constant antibiotics that have been making me weary.
Many people have been in hospital this week, getting more serious treatment than me. I only have to look across the Fitzroy horizon to know those who need more prayer than I have needed this week.
However, when you are on any operating table, when you are under any general anaesthetic, you are looking for all the prayer and divine help you can get. Others might have more serious conditions but this is your condition. These are your fears.
I was anxious on Thursday. Actually for a few days before. I wanted this done. I wanted to be well again. Yet, I was fearful. Some of those fears have to do with the procedure itself but much of my apprehension was about my vulnerability.
You are laid out on a bed with people pushing you through hospital corridors. You arrive and see all the operating theatre paraphernalia. People are then looking down at you, explaining what they might do. You have to give yourself over to them in some kind of trust. Then you are gone…
… You come round and do not know where you are. Or who this nurse is. Or whether your operation worked. You are pushed back through the corridors, this time a little less yourself than you were the last time. You hear that your wife is waiting in the ward and you focus on that. Someone you know. Someone you trust. You reach for her hand. An utter rock in the recent sea of uncertainty.
It has in some ways only just begun. For the next days everything is a new task. Getting out of bed with wires and leads sticking out of your body. Washing and brushing your teeth become unfamiliar acts that need carefully thought through. There is discomfort, pain and many moments of indignity. You press the button for a nurse. And that is a chance to thank all the staff. Amazing!
I was only in for two days and though I was not sure that I would be in at all, it was a short time. However, nothing was straightforward. I was constantly fearful of doing something embarrassing. I was in a place of weakness where I couldn’t really play any of my strengths.
Vulnerability was the meditation. God became vulnerable. Jesus crossed a border from safety to be born as a baby, laid in straw and then the run as a refugee. He was eventually laid out on a piece of wood and nailed to it. Naked. Made fun of. Alone. He emptied himself of all of his strong cards!
“Follow me,” Jesus invited us. Follow me into vulnerability. Do not hide behind your natural strengths. Do not stick to your safe places. Do not hangout with your same old friends. Open yourself to weakness. The apostle Paul would later write that “God’s strength was made perfect in our weakness”.
Quite the start to Lent!
As they wheeled me out of theatre I couldn’t help but think that any one training to be a pastor should have a small procedure as part of the course! Seeing it from the other side was eye opening.
I also realised once again one of the positive aspects of social media, Facebook particularly. I was glad I hadn’t gone off that for Lent. I was so grateful for all your prayers and wishes and good luck messages. From Fitzroy to Fields Of Life water drillers to the 4 Corners Community to American College Campuses to Monasteries to U2 fans worldwide to Moderators to Deacon Blue Tour buses. They were an utter tonic. Thank you every last one of you!
The healing has begun... if you are the praying kind... and if you aren't send up a wish for me.