Saturday, June 18, 2005

Help When We Need It

My dad told me a story about something mysterious that happened when I was born in a hospital in Decatur, Illinois in the early 60s. My mom had been very sick and she went into labor six weeks early. When I arrived, no one expected me to live because my lungs were full of fluid and I was unable to breathe on my own. My dad was working in Chicago at the time and remembers the phone call he received from my grandmother: Instead of saying “You have a baby daughter,” she said, “You’d better make funeral arrangements.”

When my father arrived in Decatur the next morning, he didn’t know what he would find at the hospital. To his surprise, the nurse led him to the nursery window, where he could look in and see me in an incubator—tiny, red, but still alive. The nurse told him that she’d heard that a young intern had sat beside my bed all night long, squeezing a bulb aspirator that manually inflated my tiny lungs until they were strong and dry enough to begin taking over on their own. When morning arrived, the young intern disappeared without a word—and no one on the floor knew who he was, where he came from, or where he went.

I have noticed throughout my life that in every sad, scary, or tragic circumstance, there are always people—some might say, angels—who are there to help us in one form or another. A person has just the answer we need when we’re trying to figure out how to solve a big problem. Just when we give up trying to find directions to a place we’re trying to find, we discover the road we’ve been looking for. In a moment when we’re feeling hopeless and discouraged, a friend shows up with something that lifts our spirits. We get messages of hope in songs, in prayers, in smiles, in sunrises.

It reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago in which a father and daughter are sitting on the front porch when the little girl hears the sound of a siren not far away. She looks worried and says to her dad, “I hate to hear that sound—I know it means somebody is hurt somewhere.” Her dad thought for a moment and then hugged her tight. “It might mean they are hurting right this moment,” he said, “but it also means help is on the way.”

My hope for us today is that we remember that help is all around us in the moments we need it most, and that even when we’re hurt, sick, frightened, or confused help is on the way.

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