Every day that I work at Addenbrookes I am invited into the lives of several different people. Amazingly wonderful people! People who remind me of the richness in the gifts God gives. The people I visit all come with their own unique stories and backgrounds but all have one thing in common. They have all been taken out of the world and detained in the 'Addenbrookes bubble." If you haven't noticed already; I am quite fond of the greatest theologian, Dr.Seuss, who defines this bubble as "The waiting place." This place is a place where people have far too much time to contemplate life or perhaps lament life or even wonder when the next time someone is going to visit them. I am blessed to be that someone to visit them.
It is a humbling experience to visit the sick and dying. It makes you realize at times that there are no words. I have found myself at a loss for words in the presence of a weeping elderly woman, in the company of a lonely old man, in a room filled with incubators filled with babies who made their entrance into the world far too early. Words are lost in the presence of young men and women who should be beginning to enjoy the fruits of their youth but instead are being injected with drugs to kill cancerous cells that have slowly been taking over their bodies. Words have no place in the company of a family who realizes that their loved one is going to be departing the world earlier than anyone had ever expected and they are not ready to say "goodbye."
One thing I have noticed in my many visits with people is that while words may fail me, presence doesn't. There is one thing I feel I share with the people I visit and that is the need to feel the very real presence of someone. Christians and non-Christians alike all have a need to be connected. We all need to know that when all the words have been said, there will be someone there to just hold a hand, smile or even cry with us. I am learning that all the theology I have read and learned manifests itself in the silent physical presence of one who genuinely cares enough to sit through the uncomfortable silence that abandonment, loss of autonomy, sin, disease, decay, and death brings to the hospital bedside. What is more is that I get to do this. Who am I that I should be so blessed to be brought into the sacred space of these peoples grief and suffering? It is my prayer as I go and make visits on the many patients of Addenbrookes that God would allow my able body and limbs be used and taken advantage of for as long as I am given these gifts. I pray that I never take advantage of my own personal mobility, autonomy and ability to surround myself with others who love me. God has blessed me so very much, not only with the above mentioned gifts, but also with the gift of his son who emptied himself much like those whom I visit, but he did it for all those I visit and for me and for you. One day victory for the patients of Addenbrookes, for myself and all under the effects of sin will ring forth and we will no longer know the sorrow in loneliness, grief or pain.