“Four days after surgery, I was moved to a suburban rehabilitation hospital about five minutes from my home. This is Day #8 in the rehabilitation hospital, with five more days presently anticipated. Here we 30 or so in-house patients labor together in a camaraderie of human brokenness, working to achieve maximum wholeness following strokes, brain tumors, joint replacements, injuries, surgeries, and other forms of mortal disintegration. For many of us, nights are the worst time – marked by restlessness, chasing fleeting sleep, often enduring pain. Please remember to pray for all who suffer—especially when you do not—in hospitals, at home and elsewhere. It is a difficult and weary ordeal.
… I have always been taught that every human being is equal in God’s sight, made in the divine image. For that reason, I have tried to demonstrate that attitude in action, showing respect to all persons and giving honor to all who bear the image of God. But this truth of our common humanity was impressed on me in a mighty and profound way the other night, in a revelation that I know even now cannot be contained in words, although I will try at least to stand dumbfounded and point as it were, in wordless awe and marvel. This truth did not come in a cathedral, nor surrounded by the sounds of either city or countryside. It overwhelmed me at night, as I slowly moved behind my walker through the hallways of the hospital that has for a few weeks become my assigned home.
The human beings around me are Christian, Muslim, atheist, secularist and whatever else. They are white, black, brown and, in the dark, visibly none of the above. But they share something in common that is fundamental to their identity and to mine. In this identity is our oneness as humans. I am not talking about eternal destinies or theological categories, but about here and now. I have come to know many of these people—not by their jobs or professions, not by their achievements or connections or honors. I know them—and they know me—by their brokenness. We are one in our brokenness—our mortality, our frailty, our creatureliness. Made in God’s image, we have dignity and worth. Broken, we have needs—perhaps as obvious as a drinking straw wrapper that needs removing to begin our meal together in the cafeteria.
This is my experience on this night. Take it or toss it aside. Reflect on it or ignore it. I simply have to tell it. We are one with all humankind, but we probably will not see or feel that at the deepest level until we experience it in our brokenness, we who at best are always but a breath away from knowing what that means. So let us serve each other with awe and respect.”