I stood at the hospital and looked out the window. Yes, it was raining again, just like many other times I have looked out a hospital window. There is just something about looking out a hospital window that makes one think introspective thoughts.
How many times have I stood looking out a hospital window feeling the one in the bed behind me? Hearing the noise of the machines and the busyness of the nurses station just outside the door...thankful that I am not the one being monitored. It reminds me of my dear friend Rose who succumbed to cancer, which reminds me of my grandmother laying in her hospital bed...which reminds me of her husband in the bed, as well. Lord, is that just how it goes?
I think of other windows, too. The huge windows at the airport that look out onto the tarmac along with my sweet mother-in-law watching the planes come and go as we prepare to say goodbye after a visit. Not a hospital visit this time, but a family visit. Goodbyes always feel like it should be raining outside, even when it's not. My mother-in-law doesn't like goodbyes, so she keeps them short and well, short - she doesn't want to cry at the separation. We live so far apart.
Another window, this time it's a hotel sliding glass door that steps out onto a small balcony overlooking the manicured lawn of the Maui resort. Many years ago now, I contemplated the step I had taken just days before as I entered into marriage. The warm breeze, the Kona coffee and the goal of forming a family. Even in the midst of hopes and dreams, there's always niggling doubts, I guess. I haven't been back to that window, but I've stood at many, many other hotel windows with a view of a parking lot and the hope of new places yet to be explored. Windows with air-conditioners just below them and rather unattractive curtains gracing them. I'm always glad to be looking out a hotel window, actually. That means I'm on the road, which is always a good thing.
Windows are interesting because with unseeing eyes we see the past somehow mingle with the future. At least that's how it is with me. I look out my kitchen window every day and gaze in the direction of a mountain that is often obscured from view. That is how the future is, always. You know it's there, but you just can't see it. As frustrating as that can be, I know that if we were privy to so many things, we might turn and run the other direction. And if not run, at least make some different choices. Are we ever truly prepared for each day we are given? The diagnosis, the decision, the spoken words that are destined to be said - all a mystery. I suppose we look out windows with those unseeing eyes hoping we will somehow see what's coming, like looking to the horizon to see the forming clouds that bring the next rain squall. And like the weather, we never truly know what's coming. There are times when it all seems like a cruel joke, whether it's happy times that are far too short or sad, dark times that linger far too long.
Scripture says that there is One who directs all things, intertwining and coordinating all in a mind-boggling recipe of relational interactions. In my puny human mind, I cannot grasp the thoughts of a Holy One who claims He is just and good when I'm standing at a hospital window, in the midst of a relational quagmire, preparing myself for major surgery. Or when things never seem to get to that happy ending. Or when the dark days slog on, one right after another, leaving me standing at a window not seeing anything but still looking for something. Are you really there, LORD? Do you hear us pleading, begging, needing? So many are longing for relief; truly, do You hear our cries? If so, it just must be an absolute cacophony of noise in Your holy ears.
My forefathers cried out in Egypt for a very long time, hundreds of years, trapped in slavery. Abject poverty and submission to cruel masters, forced to build impossible monuments to the earthly lives of the rich and privileged. They were delivered, to be sure, but it sure took a long time. Will I, or my friend who has been living in limbo for years due to an abusive marriage, even see the salvation and deliverance of HaShem? Will our only deliverance be death, left to cry out our entire lives for relief that isn't coming until generations later?
An age old question. Most believers are hesitant to even voice such doubts, I'm certain. But as I stand at the rainy window ever-gazing, I think the unthinkable, turning the question over and over in my mind. Ultimately, I only come up with one answer. I guess it could be called the 'window answer'...the only answer.
I must leave it all in the hands of the One who knows all and judges all. There is no other answer to have, unless you want to live, or die, in desperate hopelessness. At the end of your proverbial rope, at the bottom of that dank pit, at the absolute darkest place we can get standing in front of that rainy, dismal, cold window, there is nothing left but hope. Hope that things will turn around. Hope for the miraculous.
There is hope that time will heal and the sharp grief will dull.
Hope that, in His great mercy, the beloved one will change their mind.
Hope that the needed job will materialize and all will not be lost.
Hope that the treatment will be the treatment that stops the nightmare.
Hope that the sound of their voice won't fade completely from memory.
Hope that someone will finally stop the silence and rejection and show love and compassion.
Hope that the pain will someday end.
Hope that there really is an all-knowing G-d who hears our cries and cares enough to do something about them.
So, that's it. That is what we truly see when we stand at the window. The past and the future mingling together, dancing with hope. Desperate human hope.
Man can live about forty days without food,
about three days without water,
about eight minutes without air,
but only for one second without hope.
"Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified."
~Paul to the Romans