Poem – healing in darkness

Consider Noah and Jonah and Jesus.
At one point, each was separated
from the rest of the world.
Through their time away
hidden they were able
to heal and bring salvation.

Also Joseph,
he was in prison for many years
but that put him in the right place
to be able to rescue the entire Jewish people
from certain extinction.

There is something for us
about these stories of people
retreating from the world
in order to save the world.
They are enclosed
in quiet dark places
they are like seeds
waiting for the right time
for bringing new life.

Remember when you are in
those dark times.
You are not being buried.
You’re being planted.

Everything starts in darkness.
It is not an end.
It is a transition
time to change
a time of stilling yourself
for something new to come.
Go into those times mindfully
and with rejoicing.

Turn away

I’ve seen several pictures of things that have really disturbed me recently, and rather than just turn away again, I’ve decided to meditate on exactly what I find repulsive about these pictures. This is part of my recent decision to be more mindful. It is not an easy practice, but it is necessary for being fully conscious and aware of my actions.

These images aren’t things that people normally would turn away from, such as violence or abuse for instance. Those are abhorrent as well, of course. What I’m writing about here are images of people who are in ICU, hooked up to machines and tubes. I never gave it a second thought as to why I was repulsed until I saw a video about a machine that can keep a heart alive outside of the body in preparation for transplant. That tipped the scales.

What disturbs me about it is not exactly the same as what disturbs me about the ICU pictures, but it is a good thing to start with. The donor was dead, as far as doctors could determine. The brain had ceased functioning. The heart had been removed, and rather than keep it on ice as was normally done in a transplant situation, it was hooked up to a machine that replicated the environment inside the chest. It was kept humid and warm, with blood circulating through it. This heart was beating just like a normal heart, but it was inside a plastic box. There was no person attached.

I also saw a video of two mothers who had a strange connection. Mother A had a young child who had suddenly died due to trauma. She had decided to donate his organs. Mother B’s child had received his heart. They met three years later and mother A used a stethoscope to hear the heart of her son beating inside the chest of Mother B’s daughter. It was supposed to be a touching video, but I was really disturbed. Something seemed deeply wrong about this.

I kept being triggered by these images. I decided to examine the original related triggers – images of people in ICU. I don’t seek these out – people share them sometimes on social media as part of a story.

One was about a new mother who had been in an accident and the nurse brought her child to her so she could breastfeed her child. While the person who posted it was pointing out the value of breastfeeding, it was very disturbing. The mother was not present in any form other than her body. She was not being helped to breastfeed. The nurse put the child to her breast and that was it.

I look at a sketching website every day, and today there was one of a man in ICU. The sketcher even commented about it, wondering if it was ethically correct to sketch such a thing. He did not mention if he’d thought about the ethics of sharing it online as well.

I read something recently that speaks to all of this in a useful way.

There is a Jewish belief that it is improper to have an open casket. To do so is to violate the privacy of the person. It is also putting focus and attention on the wrong thing, as the “person” is not there – their soul has left. When there is just a body and not a soul, it is not a person. It is a shell, a husk. An open casket is an insult to the person who had inhabited that body, because they have no say over how they are seen. They have no control over what happens to them. They are fully exposed for the world to see and cannot do anything about it.

I think this is at the center of it all. To show pictures of people who are not at their best (to say it lightly) is to violate their rights. It is an invasion of privacy. It is embarrassing. To focus on body parts rather than the whole is equally unethical.

The lady’s son was no longer present. His heart was just a piece of muscle, doing a job. The heart in the box for transplant was moving as if it was alive, but as it was not attached to a person, it was simply the illusion of life. There was no soul in it. It was the same as looking at a machine.

Being mindful and considerate of others’ feelings also applies to not sharing pictures of people who have passed out from being drunk or are intoxicated to the point that they are unaware of their actions.

Remember the story of Noah and his sons?

Genesis 9:18-27
18 Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were Noah’s sons, and from them the whole earth was populated. 20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a cloak and placed it over both their shoulders, and walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father naked. 24 When Noah awoke from his drinking and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said: Canaan will be cursed. He will be the lowest of slaves to his brothers. 26 He also said: Praise the LORD, the God of Shem; Canaan will be his slave. 27 God will extend Japheth; he will dwell in the tents of Shem; Canaan will be his slave.

The son who saw him in his drunken state, unable to control himself, was cursed, along with his children. The two sons who covered him and made sure not to see him exposed were blessed.

This is the core teaching. To look at someone who is dead, or like dead (in ICU, or passed out due to intoxication) is an insult to their very being as a person. It is disrespectful. It is a violation of their privacy. It is the same as stripping someone naked. One might even go so far as to say it is equivalent to rape, as the person is treated as a thing and not as a person.

Poem – 40 days

Noah spent 40 days in the water,
waiting for a new world.
He had in his ark one of each animal.
He was the savior of the world.
Every animal would have died
if Noah hadn’t saved them.

Noah listened to God.
God called him,
and asked him to do this crazy thing.
God said Hey, build me an ark – take in all the animals.
I’m ticked off at the filth
and the mess
and the pain
that people are causing each other,
and I’m going to wipe them out.
I need you to help me out here.

Then…

Jesus goes into the desert for 40 days,
just after being baptized.
He takes nothing with him
– no water, no food, no friends.
Alone, adrift,
he is in a strange land,
being tormented by the Devil.

God said to Jesus,
Hey, I need you to save this world.
I need you.
I need you to do this crazy thing.
I need you to die.
I need you to be the sacrificial lamb.
I need you to atone
for the sins of the world.

Job would pay for the sins of his children
even when
they didn’t know
they had sinned.
He’d pay extra, just in case.

The Jewish world
in the time of the Temple was
quid pro quo.
You sinned,
some animal had to die.
Some offering had to be made.
Some sacrifice had to happen.

40 days in the water to save the world.
40 days in the desert to save the world.

The genealogy of Jesus Christ

Jesus was about thirty years old when he began to teach, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, the son of Jesus, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Symeon, the son of Judas, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Salmon, the son of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalaleel, the son of Cainan, the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

LK 3:23-38

Be Alert! (part 1)

“As regards to exactly when the Day of Judgment will happen, no one knows, not angels, not the Son. Only the Father knows. That time will be just like it was in the time of Noah and the flood. Right until the flood happened, people went on like they always had, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, right up until the day Noah boarded the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all, sweeping away all their possessions. They didn’t know what was going to happen to them until it happened.”

MT 24:36-39a, LK 17: 26-27

“Just like it was in Lot’s time, people went on with their normal lives, doing all the usual things they always did. But right after Lot left Sodom, the whole town was destroyed by a rain of fire and sulfur from heaven. It will be just as sudden and surprising as that was to them when the Son of Man is revealed.”

LK 17:28-30

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing in the holy place, which was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the reader take note of this) then everyone in Judea must flee to the mountains. When you see that Jerusalem is surrounded by armies, know that it is time for its destruction. When that happens, a man standing on his roof must not come down to get anything out of his house. Also a man out in the fields should not return home to get his clothing. Those inside Jerusalem must escape, and those in the country must not enter the city because the days of vengeance have come to fulfill all the prophecies.

MT 24:15-18, MK 13:14-16, LK 17:31, LK 21:20-22

“Remember what happened to Lot’s wife!”

LK 17:32

“It will be very hard for women who are pregnant or nursing when this happens. Pray that you won’t have to escape in winter or on the Sabbath. For this will be a time of great trouble and stress, unlike anything that has happened since the creation of this world until now, and will never happen again! No one would survive that time if God didn’t limit those days, but he did limit them for the sake of those he chose.” They will be cut down by swords and taken captive into all the nations, and the nations will trample Jerusalem until the end of that era.

MT 24:19-22, MK 13:17-20, LK 21:24

“The coming of the Son of Man will be like this – two men will be in the field. One will disappear, and the other will remain. Two women will be grinding grain at the mill. One will disappear, and one will remain. Two people will be together in a bed. One will disappear, and the other will remain. Therefore, be on guard, because you don’t know when your Lord is coming.”

MT 24:39b-42, LK 17:34-36

His disciples asked “Where, Lord?”
Jesus answered “The vultures will gather around the corpses.”

LK 17:37, MT 24:28, MT 24:28

“Know this – if the homeowner had known exactly when the thief was going to break into his house, he would have stayed at home and stayed awake so he could prevent his house from being robbed. You need to be ready in the same way, because the Son of Man will appear when you least expect it to happen.”

MT 24:43-44, LK 12:39-40