O God, your unfailing providence sustains the world we live
in and the life we live: Watch over those, both night and day,
who work while others sleep, and grant that we may never
forget that our common life depends upon each other’s toil;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ten days ago, Henry (my husband) had open-heart surgery to repair a mitral valve. All has gone well enough so far, and he is recovering at home. It’s been an exhausting experience for both of us, on many levels. It has also reminded us of the essentially intertwined nature of our society and our world.

The photo above is of the Catalina Mountains, seen through the windows of the Banner University Medical Center surgery waiting area. It was a beautiful and calming space in which I sat alongside other family members and friends who were waiting for their loved ones’ bodies to be repaired. We might never be in each other’s presence again, but for those few hours, we formed a community of sorts.

The prayer above (from the Daily Office service of Compline) is one that came to Henry’s mind often as one caregiver after another in the hospital community tended to him over the course of almost a week in ICU. He was completely dependent on others for tending to even his most basic bodily functions. He received care from nurses, aides, physical therapists, x-ray and ultrasound technicians, a social worker, a chaplain, the surgeon, teams of other doctors, cleaners, and probably others I missed, as well as students in many of those fields. Then there were those we didn’t see, who fixed his meals (and mine in the cafeteria downstairs), prepped his medications, washed all the dirty linens, and ordered supplies to keep this busy modern hospital functioning 24/7/365.

Henry came to the hospital to get his heart repaired, and that happened. I also feel that I received some necessary repairs to the way my heart perceives others. In this “battleground state” of Arizona, it has sometimes been hard to not be wary, or even afraid, of those who think and act differently in our increasingly polarized culture. But in the hospital setting, those issues were immaterial. All those workers wore some version of scrubs, hospital uniform, or heart-care t-shirts, and their politics were impossible to discern. The goal for each team member was repairing the heart of those in their care. Political and social differences did not matter.

On this Memorial Day, I am gratefully remembering the toil of those who cared for Henry—and also for me—during our time there. (Yes, it would be even more appropriate if this were Labor Day!) I am grateful for those who worked to care for him overnight so I could go home and sleep. I’m also grateful for situations like these, which remind me how we are entwined in a single web of life. We all can, wholeheartedly, work together toward common human goals.

Please say a prayer for all those who work in ICUs across the world and all who support the functioning of hospitals so that hearts and bodies may be healed.

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