Monday, March 17, 2008

Hospital as Garden

It’s planting time at our house. Oh, it’s still too cold outside even to work the ground. much less to plant. But inside the seed racks are set up and the lights are hung. The seed mats, providing gentle warmth, are in place. It’s planting time.

My Best Beloved loves to garden. I love to harvest. She loves to watch things grow. I love to cook and eat. There is a price to be paid to harvest, cook, and eat. Part of that price has been to set up the racks and shelves and to make the light fixtures that fit them, so that planting can begin a long time before the last hazard of frost.

My Best Beloved and two friends from church spent time Saturday planting. Seeds for tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, eggplant, and basil went into fiber containers of custom-blended potting mix. The seeds will rest there, sheltered in an environment as ideal as could be until they have grown strong enough to face the elements, to grow and thrive out in the garden. They will start in the dark, enveloped in rich soil, warmed from underneath, until they break forth. They will discover waiting for them light, bright and strong and close, carefully timed to provide both energy and rest.

This thought started as a meditation for a hospital Leadership Meeting. I start the meetings with prayer, and try to incorporate some reflection on the world beyond the hospital into my comments. Often enough those come from my own back yard, from the garden or from my fruits and berries. Well, today’s meeting got postponed two weeks; but the meditation would not wait.

You see, it occurred to me that this is much of what we do in the hospital. Those who come to us are vulnerable, not strong enough or healthy enough to face the world. For them it is often a time of darkness, a time of burial. However, in fact it is intended to provide the optimum environment for healing and growth. In our patients we look for the potential that they can grow and thrive and bloom, if only we can provide the right medium and resources. We seek to provide that for them – the right environment, the right nourishment, the right balance of work and rest – so that they can return to the life they have known, able not only to survive but, more, to thrive. For many it is indeed an experience of breaking through from darkness into light, from potential into growth and blossom.

I know there are other relevant reflections on this topic; and at this season I frequently ask patients if they have a new perspective on resurrection. But that will wait until next week. Today and in the meantime, may God grant all of us in health care that we may take our part in providing that environment – that optimum medium and nourishment and warmth and light – that will support our patients and help them to heal and grow and thrive.

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