Down to the city again today. I don’t go down every day. Not even most days. But city days hang over me like a cartoon bubble that keeps track of the hours and minutes before I once again make the trek.
I love this city. Once upon a time I went to college in this city. But those city days and these city days don’t compare.
Those city days were full of laughter, studying, writing, meeting the guy I would marry and pizza … lots of pizza.
These city days are filled with blood drawn, EKGs given, yucky CT stuff to consume … and crowds of people … most of them sick. I don’t even think that much about viruses going around because when you’re in the middle of a city hospital there’s not much you can do to be un-surrounded by germs. Except wash my hands. A lot.
I have to be here if I want a chance at being at least somewhat better. And so, like many things we face in life. I just do it.
I now have the sting injection within me – the one that hasn’t been used on humans until this study. At this point, not sure what it is doing inside of me, but it’s there and it doesn’t seem to be making me sick.
Sometimes I am quiet and don’t want to talk. I take out my notebook and write solemn sentences.
Sometimes, I want to talk. Me, who was once so shy (in my early 20s), I developed an ulcer, now wants to know about the people I meet. The mass of humanity that I bump into on the elevators and in the waiting rooms and in the doctors’ offices. The driver who is impressed that I’ve been in all fifty states, (first person he’s ever met that’s done that), the nurse who makes and sells baby clothes on the side, the physical therapist who is planning her summer vacation, the fun nurse practitioner who has just started her new job as manager of the department and lets me leave a little early (because now she has clout), the two men in the elevator who describe the automated voice as sounding like Eeyore’s wife (she does), the man who has had two friends for 47 years. “I’d trust them with my life. I’d trust them with my wife,” the nurse who asked me if I had any form of spirituality in my life and when I said yes and explained, she told me “We all need the Lord. That’s the only reason I’m here.”
Then there was the man who saw me buy a Mallo Cup at Cracker Barrel (where we stopped on the way home). “Gotta love Mallo Cups,” he said and I explained that I grew up a few blocks from the Mallo Cup factory. Turns out he grew up there too and that’s why he mentioned it. We had a great chat about our PA roots as we waited to pay.
I know the Lord is with me during these days. That’s a given. Just like I knew he was with me back in those days.
I remember a moment of young adult angst back then. I don’t even remember what was wrong, but I was upset thinking my world had crashed (as only a nineteen-year-old can think). I walked alone around the city quietly singing J. Peterson’s song that I had learned at camp I’m in His keeping, what joy to know ……….. what sweet assurance just to know that He is near. My heart has joy and peace and nothing else I fear.
Those same words still resonate in my mind all these years later. He is still near and because of that I don’t have to fear. That doesn’t mean I don’t fear, but I don’t have to.
What sweet assurance just to know that He is near ….
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works. (Psalm 16:8)
And another day in the city is checked off the list.