When I think of the word “Nomad” I think of how it can include the idea of being a misfit and I relate strongly, and fondly, with that idea. I experienced events early in my life that mean I shall forever feel like a misfit.
As a child, my internal life was crushed, pulled part, and scattered in places that I’m still struggling to find almost fifty years later. There is hope, lots of it, and that is what I hope to convey.
I became aware of Jesus’s presence in my life at the age of four, and the profound nature of that experience still amazes me to this day.
I would say that Jesus has pursued me all my life, but please don’t read that it a sentimental way. I would often try to avoid this reality, thinking that life would be so much easier without him.
After the traumatic events of the early years of my life I went numb internally for almost a decade. It often felt like I was pretending I was human. Then I searched out counselling and stuck with it over twelve gruelling years, until it was abruptly ended when the therapist lost his license for having an affair with a client. All of a sudden I was alone with all this partially processed junk in my life. All I felt I had was this Jesus who continued to pursue me. He remained kind and gentle, and I made it. I went to nursing school and have worked with children for the last eleven years.
So this is what I would like to convey about my journey. My life seems to be about Jesus. I just cannot seem to shake him off. I don’t think I’m ever going to fit into a church, feel like I own a particular theology, or even have a clear sense of what it means to be a Christian. All I know is that there is a kindness that keeps whispering to me, that asks me to sit and be aware of how much I am loved. Jesus is with me and asks me to hang in there.
I adopted a prayer I heard from someone, it goes “Father, help me to know your love so well that I cannot help but love others.” I use this prayer as a mantra for my life. I try to view myself and the world through this lens. It’s challenging though because it continually asks the question, where is God’s love within any experience I may be having. But it’s led to me listening to life in a different way. I hear the pauses, the sighs and the laughter throughout the day. It’s helped me to hear Jesus more clearly when I am with others. I recoil at feeling obligated to mention my faith to others but find myself compelled to fill the gaps, pauses, and sighs I hear throughout the day with kindness. When I step into those places I find Jesus. And I often experience that odd paradox that I feel loved while trying to express love towards others.
I work on a hospital acute care unit that has kids who want to either hurt themselves or others, or both. I will leave you with something I wrote as an attempt to process a difficult week with a difficult patient. I believe these words would not be possible had I not been pursued by Jesus.
Whispering Into Cracks
Cracks. They represent pain, vulnerability, and an entry point for disease, when viewed by a nurse looking at a patient’s skin. I sat at the feet of a patient with cracks all over his feet, abrasions over other parts of his body, and swollen hands from punching people and walls. This patient was described as a monster by numerous people, for numerous reasons. I sat on the floor at his feet to apply medicated cream and thought about my co-worker whose jaw he broke. I tried to push away a sense of fear. As I started to apply the cream I heard him try to communicate some feeling of gratitude. But I only heard the tone. A beautiful whisper that was full of appreciation. The cracks looked painful and angry, like the anger he expressed toward others that brought him to this hospital.
His short life has been full of rage and he described later how he, his siblings, and meth-addicted parents resolved all conflicts by ‘knocking the shit out of each other’. Knowing this made his whisper of gratitude all the more profound. My soul whispered gratitude too, despite the brutalities of this world.
I massaged the cream into his feet for as long as I could, hoping he would experience both this whispered kindness and gratitude, which I assumed he had been deprived off for much of his life.
There is a whisper of kindness in this world, and I hear it more and more. This kindness sits at my soul’s feet, washes them and applies a healing ointment. There is no other response to give but gratitude. This kindness lingers and draws me deeper in. Every fibre of my being wishes my patient could hear this whisper. I believe this patient, with so many cracks, vulnerabilities, and openings for a disease to enter into his young soul, has the ability to know love, and to whisper gratitude. I believe this to be true for him, me, and everyone else living in this broken world. There is a love that whispers into cracks.