Monday Musings for 5.17.21
I miss Simply Worship. The last time we met was March 15, 2020. Helen led the singing, Rochelle Killett led the praying, and we enjoyed snacks in the fellowship hall as always. If I am not mistaken, my short, simple “sermon” that day had to do with how good things (like God’s love) are contagious just like bad things (the coronavirus).
The group homes we serve are still locked down, so it may be awhile before Simply Worship (our Sunday evening service for those with developmental disabilities) will return.
I came across something that made me think of all the great people in that service that Helen and I have fallen in love with. This comes from William Willimon and his book On a Wild and Windy Mountain (pages 79-80).
I sat with them in silence as they awaited the arrival of the pediatrician. It had been an easy delivery, but word had drifted out of the delivery room that all was not well with the newborn.
The doctor spared few words. “Your baby has Down’s Syndrome. I had expected this, but things were too far along before I could say for sure. Anyway, that’s the way it is, unfortunately.”
“Is the baby healthy?” she asked.
“That’s what I want to discuss with you,” said the doctor. “The baby is healthy, except for the problem. However, the baby does have a slight, rather common, respiratory ailment. We now have it on a respirator. My advice to you is to let me take it off the respirator. If we do so, that might solve things. I mean, it’s a possibility.”
“It’s not a possibility for us,” he said, she said, together.
“Look, I know how you feel,” responded the doctor, his voice getting louder. “But you need to know what you’re doing. You already have two beautiful kids. Statistics show that people who keep these babies risk a higher incidence of marital stress, family problems. Is it fair to do this to the children you have? Is it fair to bring this suffering into your own family?”
At the mention of “suffering” I saw her face lighten, as if the doctor were finally making sense.
“Suffering?” she said quietly. “You see, we appreciate your concern, but we’re Christians. We have accepted the Lord, you see. He suffered for us. So we will try to suffer for the baby if we must.”
“Not many kids today get a chance to be a part of this kind of thing,” he added. “Our kids will handle it.”
“Pastor, I hope you can do something with them,” the doctor whispered to me outside their door as he continued his rounds.
Three days later, the doctor and I watched the couple leave the hospital. They walked slowly, carrying a small bundle; but it seemed to us a heavy burden, a weight on their shoulders, lifted along the sterile, clean, antiseptic corridors. You could hear them dragging, clanking it down the front steps of the hospital, moving slowly but deliberately into a cold gray March morning.
“It will be too much for them,” said the observing physician. “You should have talked them out of it. You should have helped them understand.”
But I noticed as they left, a curious look on their faces, a look as if the burden were not too heavy at all, as if it were light, a privilege, a sign, borne up, as if on another’s shoulders, being led toward some high place the doctor and I would not be going, following a way we would not understand.