Like everyone else, I receive repeated and diverse reminders of the reality of the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Unanticipated events periodically occur and reroute the roadmap that I have in place for my day, and off I go in a different direction.
I had spent the day before Easter Sunday cleaning my house and making preparations for the next day’s Easter dinner. I was expecting ten dinner guests to join me around my dining room table for the evening meal on Sunday. Late Saturday afternoon, I was ready to switch gears and start getting ready to attend Easter vigil worship at my church that evening. Before doing so, I phoned my 96-year-old mother to confirm what time I would be at her home Sunday morning to take her to the pre-worship Easter breakfast at church.
At 5 p.m. that Saturday, I was checking her into the emergency room of a hospital, and beginning a different kind of Easter vigil.
My schedule for the remainder of the weekend quickly fell apart when my phone conversation with her convinced me that something was wrong. At 5 p.m. that Saturday, I was checking her into the emergency room of a hospital, and beginning a different kind of Easter vigil.
Seven hours later, shortly after midnight, I was on my way home from the hospital, where my mother had undergone many diagnostic procedures and then had been admitted. She likely had experienced a mini-stroke.
Good news on Easter
While I was consumed with Easter preparations on Saturday, I hadn’t been thinking about how many people were not home cleaning and cooking in anticipation of the celebration of Easter Sunday and the fun of gathering with family and friends. My focus was on all the tasks I needed to do before Sunday.
My thought processes changed along with the change in my plans. As I had approached the hospital entrance on Saturday, a young woman who was crying passed me on her way to the parking lot. What had happened in the hospital, to someone she loved, to turn her life upside down? As I waited with my mother in her emergency room cubicle, I could hear the loud wails of a child in distress.
Medical personnel moved briskly in the hallway, sometimes wheeling a patient on a gurney. A doctor, nurses, and medical technicians took turns entering the cubicle to care for my mother. Family members of patients in the emergency room, with anxious, concerned looks, passed by with eyes averted so as not to invade the little bit of privacy a patient has in an emergency room. Like my mother and me, where had these people expected to be that day, instead of at the hospital?
Hours later, my mother was admitted to a room that happened to be on the same floor of the hospital as the cancer ward. I thought about the patients being cared for and those caring for them and remembered the people I knew who had been touched by cancer. Several members of a family were gathered in the lounge near the elevator on that floor. How many other families were spending Easter weekend this way?
I had heard the solemn messages at Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship services, but wasn’t able to be present to hear the good news proclaimed at the Easter vigil or Easter Sunday worship services. The hospital environment supplied the Easter message. I had entered a community of people who were either suffering or caring for people who were suffering.
I let go of the tasks I had needed to do the rest of the weekend, but others took them up. The doctor had said my mother would be released on Monday, but at 4 p.m. Easter Sunday I was driving her to my house. That Easter afternoon, as expected, 11 of us gathered around my dining room table for dinner.
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed!