Breath into Bones
August 25, 2020
“He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry” (Ezekiel 37:2, NIV 1984).
Dear Dr. ____,
I trust this email finds you well. My name is ________. I am the daughter of _______, a leukemia patient of yours in the late 1990s…I am not sure if you will recall her case, or my family. Regardless, I just wanted to reach out with a note of gratitude to you and your family. My mother never felt as protected as she did under your care. And for that, I am so grateful. I was around 11 back then, and I recall my family once had lunch at your house and your wife gifted me a giant stuffed dog, which I still have and love. After graduating high school, I made my way back to the U.S. and am currently in my last year of law school in New York…I am married and am now awaiting my first child. My father has remarried since and currently resides in _____, as does my older brother ____. They also asked that I send their heartfelt gratitude for all that you have done for us.
Wishing you and your family all the very best and many blessings.
Many thoughts flashed through my brain and heart with this surprise email from 20 years ago: beautiful memories of a patient I loved, the awesome value of my wife’s act of stuffed-dog love, the tragedy of life, the hope of Christ.
All these sparks were ignited as I read the note, but healing came as well. For a few weeks I had been passing through a time of minor depression. My bones were dry. The night before I received this email, I had slept poorly and was dragging through my day. And then, this letter came. I slept well last night, and my depression lifted.
I’m grateful I’ve never had to struggle through true burnout as others have. But life is heavy sometimes: too much work, dreams denied, the sadness that sometimes comes for those you love. This email brought back to me the reason to continue in my profession. I go to work, day after day, for one person at a time. One person to love and serve. One person who, because of my care and skills, might find strength, or healing, or a moment of happiness, or eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Friedrich Nietzsche wrote, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
I hate EMRs and bureaucratic decisions that harm my patients, and productivity pressures, and the times I’m not at home when badly needed, but I have a “why” to my work that can bear up to almost any “how.” If each day I can speak the name of Jesus or perform one act of extraordinary stuffed-dog kindness, or diminish the suffering of a patient I love—if each day I can fulfill the purpose for which I was created, it is worth the pressure and worth occasional days of sadness. What is more, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me;” and besides, He called me to this place.
Thank you for calling me to this mission of healing. Though it sometimes is tough, there is also much joy. Let me not back away until you give the command.