Wake-up call


You are as purple as the winter sunset sky, and my pulse quickens as the code bell rings, signaling to the hospital that another fragile person has fallen prey for lack of oxygen and a good heartbeat. We flock around like sightseers to the sunset, but you rally and suddenly you are gray, and then pink again. You, the reason I pried little fingers off my scrub pants last night to go to work. You, whose dying day is written in His book...but it is not today. I stuff the yellow tag from the code cart into my scrub pocket, the rasp of the ziptag tugging at my fingers cracked and bleeding from hospital soap. A reminder of someone who breathes again because of quick feet of these people who live out lives in the fluorescent of the hospital lights, working through the night to watch God push up dawn for a few dozen people who lay on beds hovering between this life and the next. To me, for most of the night, you were just the patient moaning in the room next door, not my patient, not my burden. My heart was heavy for the one in my room, as that code call looms for us in that room, the patient struggling to maintain a blood pressure as two nurses scurry all night to keep the veins open and the heart pumping strong.

As the code bell rings, and I look down at my patient, still breathing, heart still beating, I run with the rest to the room that calls, and see you there, purple like death. For this I have given up sleep and a warm bed full of husband, for this I have washed my hands a million times, sat through countless classes, and worked my way through an orientation folder thick with tasks at a new job miles from my home. For this my laundry piles high and the doorway clogs with coats. For this the dishes lie undone and I rush from the door anyway, emancipated for a few hours to tend the sick.

It has been a hard transition from stay-at-home mom and scholar to working mom. Even if it is two or three shifts a week, pulling on my nurse scrubs is hard when I wake up in the afternoon red-eyed from a day of interrupted sleep against the sun and Circadian rhythm and crying children. I have questioned my sanity many times since taking this job, and suddenly it all flashes into focus as I watch you vomit and eyes open to see us all sweating over your bed.

As I drive home from your code, the day you didn't die, I am sobbing for my husband, thankful we're all together and breathing this hectic life in the same rooms. I realize afresh that He put this calling in my being because it is a job that matters to him. It is not just extra income or a night off from the house. It is saving lives and loving people and being the hands and feet of Christ in the desolation of the dying night. You cause me to see the sunrise with fresh eyes. You bring thanks to my lips anew. You open the channel I've been searching for days to find, the channel that brings me to heaven's doorstep in a way that the Word alone on paper sometimes cannot. You, with your purple skin and first new breath, fill the world with new verve and my legs with new vigor. I ran fast to bring you life through the oxygen tubing, and instead I find it is I breathing afresh, the world washed clean as all of life that doesn't matter scatters clean away in the sudden rush of thankfulness for home and hearth, kith and kin.

Thank you, stranger, for waking me up this morning to His mercies made new every dawn. Thank you, Father, for breathing life into the dust of our fragile human frames and raising us again to see that You are enough, more than enough, the richest of blessings and bringer of sweetest days.


I was on a fast curve, lost my nerve on a dead end road 
I was goin’ nowhere faster than two legs can go 
Never thought I’d slow down 
I’m glad I finally know now 

I never really noticed when he moved in next to me 
Sometimes it’s amazing just how blind a girl can be 
If I weren’t busy runnin’ I might have seen it comin’ 

That’s life, if you open up your eyes 
You’ll find it gets better all the 
Time, time, time 
Running out of time, I’m runnin’ away 
I’m running out of ways of running away 
Got to slow down, if you don’t, you’re gonna break down 
I’m runnin’ out of time, time, time 

I was cooking dinner, heard a ring at my front door 
I opened up and saw him, never felt like that before 
The moment that our eyes met I knew I’d never forget 
Sometimes the thing you most need is right there, but you can’t see 

That’s life, if you open up your eyes 
You’ll find it gets better all the 
Time, time, time
~Sugarland, Time, Time, Time~

Life: Unmasked