Be with us, Lord........
Years ago, in his training as a seminarian, Bob was doing CPE at a rather large hospital in Chicago. He had been assigned the Psych. ward. Each day he came in and went through the usual rigors and rituals of getting into the ward. Barred gates were physically unlocked and unlocked, while others were controlled via buzzer system from the nurses station.
There were only fairly muscular male nurses on a section of the ward where particularly violent patients were confined or kept under close personal or video surveillance.
One day, having gotten into the inner sanctum, one of the nurses pointed to a video monitor. "Hey Padre, come over here and take a look at this one." Chaplain Bob came over to the black and white screen and watched, as instructed.
There was a patient, in a T-shirt and pull-on pants, pacing back and forth from one side of his padded cell to the other, his arms folded on top of each other across his chest. As he walked, he made a kind of rocking motion, back and forth. This wasn't particularly noteworthy, Bob thought to himself, thanked the nurse and went to the patient list to see if there was anyone lucid enought that he might visit. "No..... ya gotta wait. Pretty soon he'll just go crazy" (in 1960, politically correct comments were years off in the future). Bob dutifully came back.
Then it started...... the man became very aggitated, with either a determined or bleery look in his eyes. He made repetitive motions with one arm over the other, working his way down his arm. He gestured around his neck, around his head, seeming to adjust a hat that did not exist. He bobbled his shoulders about, he swayed, he moaned.
Bob was caught up in this pantomime fight or drama. When the patient finished his very repetitive movements, he walked to one side of the room, stood about a foot away from the wall and then began rocking back and forth, slamming his head against the wall. "Can you beat that??" said the nurse, transfixed at the monitor.
Bob went down the hall and peered into the small observation opening. The patient was bobbing, but he was not hitting his head. Why the violent behavior? Bob continued to watch the patient on and off for hours. Every four hours, this poor man would go through the same trauma, the same motions.
About at the end of his shift, Bob finally went back to the nurses station, everyone was making rounds, taking measurements, checking security. He sat down in front of the same monitor and began to pray...God, help this tortured soul find some peace, help this man with your eternal comfort. Let him trust you for calm. Make him...... and he stopped. Bob heard the Spirit say "He knows, Bob. He knows."
Bob looked at the monitor again. The old man was doing exactly the same things again. And the eyes of Bob's soul were opened. This man is an orthodox Jew. He is carefully tying on the leather bands for prayer up his arm, he is tying on the box holding Holy Scripture to his forehead, he is covering himself with his prayer shawl and he goes to the wall to pray. He is not banging his head... he is praying. In his cell, with no privacy, with little clothing, without something to cover his head, without any concept of the passage of time, he had mustered his dignity and turned to God in humilty and prayer. Prayer was his priviledge and his duty... and his only reality amidst the chaos of his confused mind.
It is amazing how much prayer can look like foolishness, even madness to others. It is NOT logical, it appears impractical. Yet what richness and greater reality prayer brings to us when we choose it as a trusted companion on our journey.
The Geranium Farm provides us with many opportunities to support each other through prayer and intercession. To this end, I draw your attention to the Vigils on this site, listed in the Menu page as "Virtual Candle Vigils & Message Board".
There feel free to post a one-line prayer request my lighting a 'virtual' candle. If you would like to share more details specific to the prayer request, then use the Farm's Message Board. Either way, know that on the Farm there is a place to share your hopes, fears, joys and sorrows and of course the concerns you have for others.
It may look foolish in the eyes of this often crazy world, yet we know it to be the path to saving Grace!