Walking on Holy Ground
by Pratt Davis
Several people asked me if I kept a journal or wrote something about my recent experience of donating a kidney to my son. My dear friend Faye, who is married to my husband’s second cousin, asked if I had written something about what God has shown me. Her wording of that question caught my attention because I felt strongly that two of my long-held beliefs were lived out and shown to me again and again as I was in the hospital and recuperating afterwards.
I believe that people are good at heart – that all of us human beings are indeed made in the image of God. And I believe that the creative and healing life force of God is in us and around us in all of life. Both of these ideas were reinforced by my experiences.
We checked into the Day Hospital the day before surgery for final tests and prep. Needless to say, we had a lot of pre-op anxiety. Then my nurse Margaret arrived to draw blood and was so slow and patient and reassuring that she was able to get the IV and blood draw done in one stick. Then Donna my CNA popped in and out of my “room,” that was more of a cubicle with a door, checking on me, telling me how to order lunch, and making helpful suggestions. I was visited by the anesthesiologist and the surgical team. Everyone was calm, reassuring, and helpful. We knew lots of friends and family were saying prayers. I felt supported and cared for. I was walking on Holy Ground.
Throughout our stay on the transplant floor following surgery we had the most incredible nurses and aides. Several were male, all were caring and helpful. The aide who manned the night desk and answered when I pushed the call button always answered the call with a greeting, “Sweetheart, what can I get you?” Everyone cheered us on and offered good advice and help.
The second day after surgery I was walking with my sister. We went for a longer walk down the hall that took us to the wing where we had stayed in the Day Hospital. As we rounded the corner toward the nurses’ station, Donna saw me and exclaimed, “There you are! You look great! How are you doing?” Then Margaret saw us and came over. We talk and I thank her for her care. She tells me, “I said a prayer for you. I say a prayer for all of my patients every night.” That is a wonderful testimony to the depth of caring that we experienced. If I had logged every encounter that made me feel cared about, as well as cared for, I could fill a notebook. I felt like I was inside a miracle of healing and care. I was walking on Holy Ground.
Even the staff was interested and supportive. The young Black woman who wheeled me out to the car asked about my stay. I told her that I had donated a kidney to my son and that it was just a miracle to see how the body heals. She then told me a testimony about Jesus and how she sees this life miracle every day.
Now I am not so naïve as to think that life is only sweetness and light. There is a load of grief and stress and nasty human behavior in a hospital. On one of our turns around the hall, my sister and I passed an open door to a patient’s room where two police officers as well as a nurse were standing near the bed. The patient appeared to be a young man. I hurried past the door hoping there would be no violence. As I went on my way I wondered what this young man’s life was like. Had his parents loved him or had they treated him cruelly? Was he a bright child or one that struggled in school? Did he belong to a group that brought out the best in him or one that brought out the worst? I believe that if I had his mental make-up, his upbringing, and his situation in life, I would be in the same boat he is in.
I can succeed in life and see the goodness around me because I grew up in a loving home, had friends who were happy children, excelled in school, belonged to a church. My parents modeled the way to live a rich, full life. Children learn so early how to respond to make their caretakers approve of them. No matter how much a child has suffered, I believe the healing force of life that we call God, is nudging, pushing, and pulling this young man and every human being into a life of health and wholeness. We are all walking on Holy Ground.
I believe that we are all created with a center of goodness that is like a shy, hidden fawn that only appears when it feels safe and secure. Thomas Merton, a contemplative Catholic monk, writes in The Inner Experience, “The True Self is like a shy, wild animal that never appears at all when an alien presence is at hand, and comes only when all is peaceful, in silence, when (s)he is untroubled and alone.” I think the True Self that Merton is describing is that core of goodness that is of God.
While we were staying at the SECU house for a couple of days after we left the hospital, I had an opportunity to observe the healing and creative force of God in nature. I strolled outside the SECU house along a sidewalk that led me through a garden. The garden was filled with shrubs, flowers, and a fountain. I stopped to look closely at the plants. Every single one was blooming from the tiniest, newest plant to the larger, older shrubs. I studied them carefully, realizing that the force to grow and to flower is pulsing through every living thing. I was walking on Holy Ground.
I also considered the end of life. Every one of these plants will wither and die. Some are here for a season; some will live for years. They may become diseased, grow old, and die just as one of the patients on the transplant floor was first a “code blue” then later wheeled out on a gurney covered in a body bag. Suffering will end. Everything will die yet the life force flows on. We are walking on Holy Ground.
That people are good at heart, that the life force of creating and healing flows through everything, these ideas were brought forward in a concrete, felt in the body, sort of way as we traveled this path of healing. Yet suffering and death are part of that goodness and healing as it manifests on planet Earth and both are contained in the Presence of God. It is all part of the path we are walking and it is all Holy Ground.
Pratt Davis is a member of Sparta UMC and an avid UM Woman. Pratt practices Insight Meditation, is a student of night-time dreams, and writes articles for her church’s monthly newsletter.
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The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
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We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at email@example.com.