top of page
Search

Letters From a Hospital Bed #23: Reflections From a 99 Year Old

Letters from a Hospital Bed is a series of reflections by Jim Houston, now entering his 100th year, in which Jim seeks to capture and reflect new insights of his ever-discoverable God, revealed through his own hospitalization, for the encouragement of all care givers.

An Exploration of the Strange Experience of Being Still…Well, More Still Than Normal!

Administrator's Note for All Visitors:

We are delighted that Dad is doing much better in terms of his energy and mobility. He is quite keen to see his friends, and it is delightful that so many of you have been able to visit. To assist us in ensuring that all have a quality visit with Dad, we request that everyone books an appointment at the following site (even if Dad says to just pop in between hours!)

Additionally, Point Grey Hospital has some institutional requirements in place for all visitors (to ensure the safety of the staff and all who call PGH home). Current requirements for all visitors are:

  • Must be vaccinated

  • Must do a rapid Covid test, administered by the home prior to entering (takes 15 mins)

  • Must be masked

  • On weekends, all must also book a time with Point Grey Hospital to visit (in addition to the calendar link above). Please email pghvisitorco@tcgcare.com by 5pm on the Thursday prior to your visit. (This is to help the staff as they have to administer a large number of covid tests to visitors).

If you are not able to meet the above requirements set by PGH, an alternative (if the weather is nice) is to book an appointment and take Dad out for a walk.

Your visits mean a great deal to Dad and he is delighted to be able to see so many of you. Please help us and the staff by working within these appointment parameters. Don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

On behalf of our family, thank you so much for your time and love that you give Dad. It is certainly helping to sustain him.


Claire

clairestaylor4@gmail.com



April 21, 2022


Dear Friends;


Each day, in the endless patterns of our daily routine in this home, my floor is swept. It never strikes me that it much needs sweeping, but that is what happens, each day. Recently, on a day so much like any other, I was watching the face of the lovely girl who daily sweeps my clean floor and she looked so sad. I think I would have been sad if my life had revolved around sweeping a floor that seemed clean, but on this day, Lucy (not her real name) impressed me with a deeper sadness than I had seen before. And so I asked, “why are you so tired and so sad?” And thereupon, with broom in hand, large tears fell from her eyes to moisten the clean floor at her feet. My new friend Lucy wept.


There is a close community of nurses and care givers in our hospital. They are largely of one ethnic community and profess one faith. There are few exceptions. Lucy is one, from the same ethic community but professing another faith, and her sense of isolation and loneliness was breaking her heart. She is not alone. As our global population rises, alienation has become epidemic. Never were we closer together physically yet never further apart relationally. This pandemic, ever the accelerant on so many changes, has driven us behind doors, behind masks, behind even our own faces, to inhabit fear, alone. Lucy, pushing her broom, amidst all the denizens of our hospital floors, found herself weeping, with me as I recounted for her the lines of George Herbert in his poem The Elixir…”a servant with this cause, makes drudgerie divine: who sweeps a room as for thy laws, makes that and th’ action fine.”


Before Lucy came in that day, I had been reading in Ephesians 2: “for you are God’s handiwork”. When the eternal Father sent His Son, He sent Him in a peasant girl’s womb, whose husband was later a carpenter. Jesus, with His father Joseph, made yokes for oxen so fields could be cultivated, grain could be harvested, so bread could be made, so that people could eat. The economy of the whole village depended on the yokes made for oxen. Years later, Jesus was to preach “take my yoke upon you…and I will give you rest.” Jesus made good yokes. They mattered. But my friend and floor sweeper, on this day, only sensed her alienation, both social and professional. She could not even claim the professional merit of being a nurse. Events had conspired to leave her separated from others on every dimension of importance to her. And her broom, though vital to our clean hospital, was of no comfort.


Sadly, our culture, often our Christian culture, has linked far too closely, identity and work, or profession. As an academic, I know this trap all too well where who I am and my sense of belonging derives from my performance. This is the lie that Christ destroyed on the cross of Easter. In that moment, He forever rooted worth, our worth, the significance of my new friend Lucy, not in performance, but in Love. We are all Lucys, all floor-sweepers, all doing not enough for merit, all alien from one another, until the Cross of Easter fulfills every letter of the law, and we are made whole. May the prayer of George Herbert guide our hearts, hungry for significance and belonging.


Teach me, my God and King,

In all things Thee to see,

And what I do in anything

To do it as for Thee.


Not rudely, as a beast,

To run into an action;

But still to make Thee prepossest,

And give it his perfection.


This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.


With my prayers that all your ‘floor-sweeping’ bring you joy as you do all for the Lord.


With my blessings


Jim

1,019 views10 comments

Recent Posts

See All

10件のコメント


dorabe3
dorabe3
2022年4月25日

Dear Dr. Houston, dear Jim,

Thank you so much for this - it came just at the right time for me. It is so lovely that you know so many of Herbert's poems, and call our - my - attention to them.

May Lucy, too, be touched and comforted by your presence and love.

Much love to you this day!

Dora

いいね!

Dear Dr. Houston, I am one of those who sweep the floors (and cares for mom 24/7 while she said she is not my mom). Reading your reflexion today I understand that I have been seen and known. You and Rita are pointing me to the source of life, real life.

いいね!
返信先

Linking my worth, my identity to the job I do and skills I developed is deadly. especially for the highly skilled.

いいね!

I love that when she met you, and you saw her, she was no longer as separate or alien from others. You were Christ to her without naming Him at all.

いいね!

Patrick Calvo
Patrick Calvo
2022年4月21日

Dear Jim:


This is a beyond a beautiful reflection. As beloved Sweepers, your insight inspires my small, parochial life and fills it with transcendent purpose; and therefore immanent meaning. As a little critter in the chaos and complexity of the universe, I think of Julian of Norwich’s little hazelnut in her palm created in love and for love. Your humility sees things others cannot.


I remember the verse on your desk at Regent years ago: “The foxes have holes, the birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” In Christ I have a beloved niche in this world. Thank You.

いいね!
James Houston
James Houston
2022年4月21日
返信先

Dear Pat

Your reflection on the hazelnut held by Julian of Norwich created quite a community several years ago. So many people wanted a hazelnut that a dear friend planted 2 hazelnut trees in our garden, as you need one to fertilize the other. Our souls need to fertilize each other. So you remind me that I should buy a large supply of hazelnuts and hand them out to each of my visitors. Yes the words of Julian are so inspiring and make our friendships with each other so enriching and infectious in fertilizing each other. Bless you both.

Jim

いいね!

Marty Folsom
Marty Folsom
2022年4月21日

Dearest Jim,


You have eyes to see and ears to hear the sweet whispers of heaven and the soft tears of the unnoticed. You are well-trained, along with the angels, to give glory to God and service to humans who need a breath of grace. The name Lucy reminds me of Lewis's child of simple and profound faith who is not believed by the other children, but Aslan knows her heart as a dear one. So too, your Lucy is seen with Lion's eyes and the wonder is all-embracing and renewing.

I have been a custodian, as well as an academic, and they both taught me the delight of noticing the details and thinking of service to others.

May the…


いいね!
James Houston
James Houston
2022年4月21日
返信先

My dear Marty

What joy you bring to my soul for you to respond as you do. You could only do this because of great grief experienced in your life. Thank you for such joy and encouragement that you give to me now.

Much love

Jim

いいね!
bottom of page