Lately though, it's been me and Dear Husband off to the ER for our own ailments. He seems to have developed some sort of heart "thing" (we are awaiting word from the cardiologist) and I have an old problem due to a horse-back riding accident that flairs up once in awhile. Let's just say that the ER staff is considering putting my old coffee cup back out on the shelf. I've also told Dear Husband that a trip to the ER does NOT constitute a date, despite the fact that we are "out on the town" without children.
I don't suppose that anyone enjoys a trip to the ER when they or someone they love is the patient. I certainly don't enjoy the pain that typically makes it a necessary trip for me. However, I have always found the ER to be a really good place to pray. I mean that.
The hospital we go to is a Catholic one, and it is where the street people of our city typically go, as they know they will be seen there. Often these folks are just looking for a warm bed, a meal and some attention. I remember one memorable night when the guy in the "curtain" next to us kept insisting he was a hemophiliac, and they couldn't discharge him until they figured that out. Given the smell emanating from his cubicle, the hemophilia had apparently developed due to large quantities of cheap alcohol.
Despite his ruse, the staff was caring and professional. The staff at this ER is always caring and professional. I enjoy praying for them, even when I have to wait awhile to be seen.
Last night, there was a baby in the ER somewhere, screaming. Not crying: screaming. Whatever was going on, this poor little soul was in pain and scared. I can only imagine how the mother felt. So, prayers for them too.
The halls buzz with EMTs and police officers. Their jobs are to deal with people under frightening and often dangerous circumstances. I prayed for them too.
Across town, in another hospital, a friend of mine was in labor for her baby girl. I knew the pain I was suffering wasn't going to have the delightful end hers would, but I was hoping that my prayers would help ease some of her pain.
Years ago, Archbishop Fulton Sheen said this:
Think of how much suffering there is in hospitals, among the poor, and the bereaved. Think also of how much of that suffering goes to waste! How many of those lonesome, suffering, abandoned, crucified souls are saying with Our Lord at the moment of consecration, "This is my body. Take it"? And yet that is what we all should be saying at that second:
I give myself to God.
Here is my Body. Take it.
Here is my Blood. Take it.
Here is my Soul, my Will, my Energy, my Strength,
my Property, my Wealth - all that I have. It is Yours.
Take it! Offer it! Offer it with Thyself to the heavenly Father
in order that He, looking down on this Great Sacrifice,
may see only Thee, His beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased.
Transmute the poor bread of my life into Thy Divive Life;
thrill the wine of my wasted life into Thy Divine Spirit;
unite my broken heart with Thy Heart;
change my cross into a Crucifix.
Let not my abandonment, and my sorrow, and my bereavement go to waste.
Gather up the fragments,
and as the drop of water is absorbed by the wine at the Offertory of the Mass,
let my life be absorbed in Thee;
let my little cross be entwined with Thy Great Cross,
so that I may purchase the joys of everlasting happiness in union with Thee.
Consecrate these trials of my life which would go unrewarded unless united with Thee;
transubstantiate me so that like bread which is now Thy Body,
And wine which is now Thy Blood, I too may be wholly Thee.
I care not if the species remain, or that, like the bread and the wine,
I seem to all earthly eyes the same as before.
My station in life, my routine duties, my work, my family -
all these are but the species of my life which may remain unchanged;
but the substance of my life, my soul, my mind, my will, my heart -
transubstantiate them, transform them wholly into Thy service,
so that through me all may know how sweet is the love of Christ. Amen.
I can tell you from experience this is hard prayer to pray. I think if I was stuck in a room, isolated, I'm not sure I could pray it. But in the ER, with the flow of humanity in front of your room, the cries of those in pain, the professionalism of the staff that melds into a kind word and a soothing touch, God allows me to pray it.
Date nights in the ER are the pits. However, prayer nights in the ER are a great blessing. I do not wish anyone a trip to the ER, but if you find yourself there, pray a bit. It is a humbling experience, rich in grace and God's almighty presence.