Reflections On Lent, Day 7

Thank God this day is nearly over!  It is five thirty in the afternoon and my butt is at last planted firmly in my appropriately-named Lazy Boy chair.  It would take a charge of dynamite to dislodge me from it now.  I probably fantasized about this chair and this cheap glass of wine (not three buck Chuck, but not much better) a dozen times today, and at last I am home.

I knew early on, last night in fact, that this would be a crazy day.  In fact I went in early so that I could get a very important test done before I had to leave the department to be part of a job interview.  It is very hard for me to leave my department and go to these meetings because many of the people with whom I work are very young.  Hell, when you’re staring down the barrel of sixty seven years old a lot of people look very young!  And in my line of medical work curve balls come at you all of the time.  I’ve been fielding those curve balls for a good many years and can usually muddle through a situation with everybody eventually more or less happy, but my young friends can  be blind-sided by them.  I like to be there to blunt the worst of it for them.

Today there were situations upon situations.  I began with two exams which for two different reasons only I could do.  This made me late for my first meeting, one which contained information that I would have benefitted from receiving.  Upon returning to my department the phone began to ring like a bell choir, mostly from scheduling who were telling me about the work that was being added on to our already busy schedule.

After making arrangements to provide care for an inpatient which required a delicate minuet involving three departments, two technologists and one student, I left my department and began trudging down the hall to where my next meeting was to be held, wondering if there was any way that I could survive two hundred and eighty more days until I retire.  It was at that moment as I approached the chapel at the end of the hallway that I saw a statue of Mother Joseph in a posture of prayer.

That stopped my racing mind in its tracks, but first a bit about Mother Joseph, or MoJo as we call her.  Mother Joseph was a nun of some order or other who came west from a city in eastern Canada to minister to the poor and hurting out on the frontier back in the middle of the 1800’s.  She championed education and charity and outreach to the orphans and homeless.  MoJo was the motivation behind the first medical establishment of any real significance in our corner of the world, and beyond that she personally designed and oversaw the construction of a four story brick academy and orphanage which still stands, and which once housed the church that I worship with until they kicked us out with one month’s notice.  They seem to have wanted a Sunday-only church, and we are definitely not one of those.

All of this could lend a person to believe that MoJo was a saint, and perhaps she was, but I have read that she was also a world-class ball buster as well.  Have any of you, dear readers, ever felt the wrath of a nun with a ruler?  I have known friends who attended Catholic schools and would prefer to charge Viet Cong machine gun nests rather than face a nun with a face of flint and a ruler in her hand.  One friend has shown me scars on his knuckles which he attributes to the ‘sisters’ at his Catholic school.  Of course, he’s one of the biggest bullshitters that I have ever known, but his story jibes with others that I have heard on the same topic.

Well, I have heard that MoJo was short of rulers and so she carried around a two by four.  I’m not going to give any examples because I think that the old girl deserves to rest in peace.  She was tough as nails however and stood toe to toe with men, women, children and demons to get done what she believed God wanted for her to get done, so I’ll not bad mouth her in this post.  Besides, some day I may meet MoJo in a restored heaven and earth and she may still be carrying that two by four.  I wasn’t born yesterday!

But let’s return to today, the twenty fourth day of February, 2015, one hundred and thirteen years after the passing of MoJo in her beloved Academy in downtown Vancouver.  As I steamed purposefully toward this meeting I saw the statue of Mother Joseph.  She was kneeling, as befits a Sister at prayer, with hands clasped together and face turned up towards the heavens and the God whom she loved and worshiped.  And that face was devoid of the cares and stresses of the arduous and complicated life that this saintly woman endured.  She was looking up in loving admiration at her Lord, and one knew without even hearing her prayer that she was giving God thanks for His Mercy, His love, His promises and His grace.

The effect upon me was instantaneous.  My poor-me paradigm was thrown out the door and replaced with an I-worship-the-same-God-that-she-did paradigm, and the comforting effect of this was immeasurable.  Not that my day got any easier.  My participation in the meeting that I was walking toward when I saw the statue was cut short by a call to come and deal with a situation that required my experience.  The rest of the day was filled with calls to add on more work, some of which I felt had to be accepted and some which I had to put off until the next day.  When the issue at stake is somebody’s pain and fear for their health, those are not easy decisions to make.

Still, they are decisions which must be made, and Mother Joseph had to make them too.  She did it with one eye fixed on the problems of Earth and one eye fixed on the promised reconciliation of heaven and earth under the lordship of God.  I found that to be a good example to follow and allowed it to lead me until I finally got to take my rest here in my chair (now on a second glass of wine.  For medicinal purposes of course!).  I will make it a point to visit Mother Joseph’s statue tomorrow and frequently thereafter.

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