Early this morning I stood in the shower, letting the water–as hot as I could stand it–cascade over my aching neck and shoulders.”This will probably be the most peaceful moment I have today,” I thought, lingering much longer than usual.
After only a couple of hours of sleep, I’d been awakened by a text message from my sister, Laurie. She had fallen and injured her “good” arm, the one she can lift above her head, and was on the way to the ER–1,300 miles away. A lifetime of rheumatoid arthritis has left Laurie’s bones brittle; she has steroid-induced osteoporosis.
Laurie puts in long hours as executive director of the Alliance for Paired Donation, a nonprofit oganization that significantly reduces the waiting time for a life-saving transplant through kidney paired donation. She is in Toledo, Ohio to oversee this weekend’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of the group’s first NEAD (Never-Ending Altruistic Donor) chain. It’s a personal and professional accomplishment, an event Laurie has been looking forward to for months.
And now this. Why?
And then I remembered my colleague, Mike Chapman, who had slept on the streets of Austin as part of a 24-hour Street Retreat, an immersion in the experience of being homeless. I’m so proud of his taking on this challenge and had been following his “embedded” tweets from the streets. Just before 1:00 a.m. he’d written –
We found a place near the courthouse to crash for a while. Outside but safe. Hopefully it doesn’t rain.
The last one I’d read before crashing had been sent at 3:54 a.m. –
Good morning from the rainy streets of Austin. I guess the rain means it’s time to wake up!
I was crying when I finally shut off the water and climbed out of the steamy shower. But they were tears of gratitude.
I was grateful that even though I’d only slept a couple of hours, they were spent in a comfortable bed while my friend Mike tried sleeping on the concrete in a downtown parking lot.
Grateful that I live in a beautiful home with my family in a nice, safe neighborhood.
Grateful that my brave sister, who has faced a lifetime of physical challenge, is able to work, and that she has a job with insurance.
Grateful that she works for a doctor who personally took her to the ER and will make sure she gets the finest medical care available.
Grateful that we have the resources for one of us to fly to Toledo and take care of Laurie.
Grateful that this personal crisis will be over in a few weeks. Broken bones will heal. Finances may be tight, but somehow medical bills will be paid.
I do not know what it is to live in poverty, and for this I am profoundly grateful.
On this Blog Action Day, I realize just how much our family is blessed, and how much we take for granted each day. One of our church members runs a homeless ministry and also helps low-income families with transitional housing. We are regular contributors–mostly through donations of clothing, household items, and food.
I can, and will, do more to help those who have nothing. What will you do?
UPDATE: My sister’s injury was pretty serious and will require othopedic surgery; she will need 24-hour care for a while. I’ve spent most of the day trying to make arrangements long distance. At this point we still don’t know if she will have surgery in Ohio or whether she will fly home for the operation. A dear friend is flying to Toledo in the morning to be with Laurie. We have family, friends, resources. And renewed compassion for those who don’t.
NOTE: See photos and blog postings from Mike’s immersion team at Mobile Loaves and Fishes.