October 3, 2017

Weekly Reflection – An Infinite Capacity for Love

Weekly Reflection – An Infinite Capacity for Love

Only God has an infinite capacity for love. As Christians, we have access to that deep well of love.

The patient was clinging to life in the hospital’s surgery intensive care unit (SICU) following some “heroic” surgery to repair the damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest. The doctors characterized him as the “most critical patient of all” in their 600-bed facility. By all measures, he should not have survived, but here he was, hanging on with the assistance of modern medicine.

He had lived the life of a “trust bunny,” never holding a meaningful job or needing to learn life’s survival skills, but always presenting a pleasant, engaging personality. Others were unaware that his money had run out, he was at a loss as to what to do, and he saw no other path than suicide. Before pulling the trigger, he had left several notes. One of these shared that he wanted his circle of friends to know that he, “…loves God and speaks to Him several times a day.”

Most of those weeks in the SICU were spent intubated. His condition presented a lethargic, “depressed” demeanor, hardly responding to others’ verbal interactions. I was able to sit by his side for some 26 days as he slowly recovered from the trauma he had brought upon himself. The intensity of those weeks severely impacted my ability to maintain any sort of a calm, contemplative routine. The one place I could go was the hospital chapel, which I would frequently visit, seeking peace and praying for wisdom and insight. It was a very soul searching time.

My prayers were answered one day when the patient was relatively attentive. I said to him, “You know, you have an unending capacity for love and caring. And that is why people like you.” The word “love” had barely passed my lips before a brief smile came across his face.

What a change! In hindsight, I suspect no one had ever spoken to him like that. He had lived his public life on the surface, discussing football and duck hunting and exchanging social pleasantries. However, in 57 years, he had perhaps never experienced a relationship based on this most crucial aspect of life. It doesn’t matter that he is “broke.” It only matters that he shares the love and caring with others.

That day I left the hospital with a smile of thankfulness on my face.

Blessings and peace in the coming week,

Chaplain Allen

Read more reflections, Lifelong Companions