Saturday, December 27, 2008
We haven't gotten much sleep around here the past few days.
Ms. Conroy, in addition to being an RN, is a nationally certified EMT. She's also a nationally certified AIDS Nurse, Hospice Nurse and Gerontology Nurse.
It's not easy living in a house with two over-achievers. Just ask any of our kids.
"The Squad" has been very busy - mostly people slipping on ice and breaking ankles or legs. A few very bad cases of asthma and one cardiac episode on Christmas Day.
That last one was a parishioner of mine. I went directly from the Christmas Service to the hospital ER to see him. He had dropped off his wife to pick up his medicine at the pharmacy at 10 AM and was due to circle back and come to join her for the rest of the service.
He never made it. The next thing we knew, a Chatham police officer was at the receiving line in Church, asking for his wife. One of the parishioners and his wife drove her to the hospital and I followed as soon as I closed up shop.
He's going to be okay, but it was very frightening. A cardiac episode is frightening on a good day, but there was something terrifying about the way it all unfolded on Christmas Day.
You know, the one day when there's supposed to be "Peace on earth." You open your heart to the possibility and live in the luxury of that idea for a few moments and then when danger strikes it lands like a sucker-punch to your soul.
We've also had two house fires in two days. The first was an apartment building where 16 families lived. The house burned right down to the ground. Thank God, no one was seriously hurt and no one lost their lives. But, they lost everything else.
Ms. Conroy was out until 3:30 AM for that one.
The Red Cross has been amazing. Simply amazing. They do everything and what they can't do, they coordinate with local agencies to get done. Many of them are volunteers. I think what they do is ministry. Very Important Ministry.
One of the Red Cross workers is a member of my congregation. Bill is incredible. There was a house fire in nearby Summit just a few weeks ago. Thirty-three people living in a building with two apartments. They were immigrants - day workers and their wives, children and other assorted relatives - living in a building owned by a Vietnamese man who was most uncooperative in terms of helping to do the basic things required of property owners when there's a fire.
You know - like boarding up the windows so there's no looting. Like helping to find alternative temporary living. For him, this was about business. Hard. Cold. Bill was outraged, of course. I wish you could have seen the Irish flare in his eyes whenever he spoke of the landlord.
He said to me, just the other day, "I never want to look into another person's eyes and have to say, 'Your home is gone. You can't go back in there.' It's one of the hardest things I've ever had to do."
Ms. Conroy is out right now on another call. Another house fire in Chatham not far from where we live. I could hear the sirens of the fire trucks, police car and EMT squad cars wailing as I began to write this.
I don't know how bad it is. Hopefully, no one will be seriously hurt. I'm trying to stay calm and centered in prayer for them, but I may have to put on my hat and coat and go down there myself. It's so much easier to pray with someone than sit here and pray for them. I am, alas, not as strong as I'd like to think I am.
As you pray on this day of the Holy Innocents, please join me in holy prayer for those innocents who have lost their homes.
Pray also for the firefighters, EMTs and other first responders.
Whenever I do an Instructed Eucharist, I always teach about "Representative Presence." We stand at the altar - priest, deacon, Eucharistic minister, acolyte - to represent at The Table of Christ Jesus those in the pews and those who are not able to be with us in church.
Together, we join those saints who have gone before us and those who are yet to come in celebrating Christ's presence among us always and everywhere.
I believe that the church is present through the 'first responders' - the Bills and the Ms. Conroys - who are nourished at Christ's table for the work they are doing. They represent us in times of crisis and tragedy because we can't all be there.
The church is there because they are.
Pray for the church.
UPDATE: First: No one was hurt. Second: Looks like the living room and the room above it will need to be gutted and replaced, but the rest of the house is okay. They will have make sure the electrician etc, check it and they will have to secure the back end of the house from the elements, but they will be able to move back it.
Thanks for your prayers.