A Song for Nurses

An invitation to the Evertsberg’s home. Bill speaks informally about the current uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 outbreak. This week Bill focuses us on healthcare workers with Brian Doyle’s “A Song for Nurses” from the book “One Long River of Song”.

So, it’s easier for me to raise a puppy than most people because I’ve got a couple hundred kids from Sunday School and AJN helping me to raise the dog. But during this quarantine time, the kids haven’t been able to check his progress every day, like usual, like we were doing before the quarantine. They would watch him get smarter and quicker and bigger with me, and so I’m going to be checking in with you maybe weekly from now on so that the kids can stay in touch with Dougie and check his progress, and so that I can talk to the adults.

So, at Kenilworth Union, the ministry proceeds apace. We are streaming our divine worship at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. Katie Lancaster is preaching, she will be preaching, continuing our sermon series “Jesus’ Defects.” Katie will be talking about Jesus’ impossible dreams. In a sermon from a couple of weeks ago, I told you about Brian Doyle’s essay collection called One Long River of Song, such a beautiful book. And in One Long River of Song, one of the essays is called “A Song for Nurses” and I thought you might like to hear part of that essay in this time when so many medical professionals are putting themselves in harm’s way to take care of you and me. And so this is how it goes:

“The first time I saw a nurse was when I was four years old and someone cut my tonsils out, and I woke up addled to find a cheerful woman wearing white leaning over me and murmuring something gentle. For me ever since, nurses are essentially angelic. Gentle and witty and brilliant and holy beings who bring light and peace, even though I know they must have dark nights when they are weary and sad and thrashed by despair. I have seen nurses help bring my children out of the sea of their mother and into the sharp and bracing air of this world. I have seen nurses praying by my tiny son’s bed before and after his heart was edited so that he could live to be a lanky and testy teenager today. I’ve seen nurses with blood on their blouses and the nether reaches of the night in emergency rooms. I have seen nurses hold my children’s heads as my children were sick upon their shoes. And never a snarl did I hear from those nurses, but only a soothing sound deep in the throat, the sound far more ancient than any civilization.”

So, here this afternoon let us pause a moment to pray for them in the holy cave of our mouths and thank the mercy for these most able and skillful agents of God’s dream for us, that we will rise to love and joy, that we will achieve humility, that we will shape our humor and labor and creativity into lives that are prayers in motion; prayers applied to salve and solve the pain of our companions on this road. Let us, in short, pray not only for the extraordinary smiling army of nurses among us, let us pray to be like them, sinewy and tender, gracious and honest avatars of service. And so yes, we’ll join Brian Doyle in praying for nurses and doctors and EMTs and hospital custodians who are working so hard to care for us through these dark days.

A couple of weeks ago, Roseanne Cash tweeted “When Shakespeare was under quarantine for the plague, he wrote King Lear.” That made me so happy. So I’m wondering what you’re doing with your found time. Thanks for listening.