Monday, June 4, 2007

Struggles of the Spirit

Thank you motherof2 and all of you dear commentators for your kind words. You give me too much credit. Trust me, there have been moments where I succumb to pain's oppression and end up in a puddle. I've questioned God's goodness to the hilt. I've doubted Him. A lot.

I made the mistake of reading the number one essay from This I Believe, a "national media project engaging people in writing, sharing, and discussing the core values and beliefs that guide their daily lives. NPR airs these three-minute essays on All Things Considered and Weekend Edition Sunday." It was an essay from a woman who was "beyond atheism." She believes in things she can "prove," like Jello and family. She called God an imaginary friend. That idea rocked my soul for days.

In many ways I can prove Him over and over again. Babies. Love. Inspiration. The apostles. Poetry. The human eye. A gander through Bible stories will tell the average reader that God works subtly with humans, even His miracles are subtle compared to the stuff He really could do. I often beg God to "show 'em. Just show everybody that You are real." Then I get scared that I'm not worthy to see Him.

When I think of Kyrie, I feel like He let us down, especially when I think about all the people who get to live regardless lives. I can still love Him and thank Him for all the good things, but some days I don't fully trust Him. I'll get it back. I know I will. But for right now, this is part of His journey with me. Believe me, finding a pinhole of hope while under an avalanche of smothering grief is my daily miracle. I guess that's how I know He's real. Jesus wasn't a liar. So if he says, "no one gets to the Father except through me," well, that's a fact, Jack—more factual than Jello.

I guess my point is that I'd rather spend my life foolishly believing than spend all of eternity wishing I would have.

Today, as I scan through other essays from This I Believe, there are far more essays that give a nod to God & goodness and soul than those who dismiss Him completely. Like this one:

Every Person Is Precious

Dr. Isabel Legarda was born in the Philippines and moved to the U.S. in 1981. She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York Medical College, where her favorite professor was a Franciscan priest who taught anatomy. Legarda lives with her family in Belmont, Mass.

Weekend Edition Sunday, May 27, 2007 · I'm often asked why I chose to be an anesthesiologist. The truest answer I give is that anesthesiology is spiritual work.

The word "spiritual" can have different meanings. I think of the Latin root, spiritus: breath, inspiration — words that resound in both medicine and faith, words that help define my life and work.

My spirituality has evolved hand-in-hand with my becoming a physician. In medical school, a classmate and I once found ourselves talking not about science but about faith. We had been raised in different traditions, and he asked me, "If you could verbalize in one sentence the single most important idea at the heart of your religion, what would you say?" I imagined my religion at its origins, untouched by history. No canon of stories, traditions, rituals, no trappings — one sentence to distill everything that mattered? I paused for a second before it came to me, like a sudden breath: Every person is precious. That was the core of my faith.

But when I finished medical school and started residency, my spiritual life began to fray at the edges. I couldn't reconcile the suffering of children with the idea of a merciful God. Once, while making rounds, I unintentionally walked in on parents praying ardently at their infant daughter's hospital bed. Though I was moved, I remember wondering if it was any use. I struggled to make spiritual connections.

The moment I chose my specialty, though, I began suturing together some of those tattered edges of faith. One day, an anesthesiologist taught me how to give manual breaths — to breathe for a child while he couldn't breathe for himself. On that day, my life turned. I took on the responsibility of sustaining the life-breath of others, and slowly I opened up to Spirit once again. Now, whenever I listen to patients' breath sounds while squeezing oxygen into their lungs or intervening when their blood pressures sag, when I hold their hands or dry their tears, I find myself literally in touch with the sacred.

Perhaps for some, this degree of control creates a sense of power. For me, it is profoundly humbling. I realize that if I forget I am standing on holy ground in the O.R. and fail to approach my patients with reverence, I risk their lives.

Every person is precious: This I believe with my whole heart. Each time I keep watch over patients and protect them when they're most vulnerable, my faith comes alive. It catches breath: Spiritus.

1 comment:

The Michiganders said...

Wow--just spent an full hour reading your blog. Thank you so much for sharing. My son was born about the same time as Kyrie and reading thru the descriptions of what she endured--what your family endured--there really aren't words. I feel changed today--like I want to live my life differently. What a beautiful, amazing, and inspiring little sweatheart. You are in my paryers.