I just read this article
about a surgeon in training
losing a patient
and I thought of you.
It may seem like an odd thing to send
on Good Friday
to someone aspiring to work in medicine
still very excited about learning all the things about healing
that knowledge and training and skill
I was such a person once.
And that excitement I had
as a pre-med student is still with me, although
my pursuits ended up leading me into a different profession.
I spent the day yesterday with a member of the congregation
who is dying of AIDS related causes.
He’s a wonderful young man, younger than me. We talked
a number of times over the last couple years
his struggle with feeling rejected by people
how it challenged his need to be accepted and loved
and how he worked so hard to keep from getting lost
and allowing feelings of hurt and resentment to close his too-tender heart.
It’s not the first time I’ve visited people who I knew were going to die.
It happens more often than I’d like
(certainly more often than the people I visit would like).
And yet, it is far and away
the most powerful and rewarding part of my job
and the thing I am most grateful
I get to do
because I walk away
each time seeing new things about loss
and not lose sight
that I am larger
and more powerful
than my fear would have me believe.
What I learned when I was considering a career in medicine
Was that part of the pursuit
involved wrestling with angels
that promised impossible things
like the fantasy that becoming a doctor
somehow grant us
more control over life – and death – then we can really manage
or even have a right to
You have the kind of heart
I hope the surgeon or the pastor or the cafeteria lady has
when, years from now, they appear
by my hospital bed and do with me
what they trained to do.
Whatever it is that you end up choosing
to use your life learning
(I hope you end up considering a wide variety of things)
you will see the signs
asking you to STOP
or MERGE as fear crosses
and you will consider
or shrinking back
from the things you were truly meant to do.
This work of keeping my heart open
in the face of struggle and loss
has been hard,
and it never seems to end. But