Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC




The hospital room was bigger than most,
in some hospitals they are more like closets
causing a constant domino effect when some one thing is moved,
this chair,
then the bed tray had to be re-situated,
sink too close to the bed,
a danger actually if a patient had trouble with balance,
but not here,
the room large and roomy,
three chairs for guest
and still room to stand and stretch;
yes a very nice room.

Dekalb medical center,
off North Decatur road close to the city,
downtown about 5 miles away,
nice place,
but I doubt anyone actually wants to be there,
for it is a place of healing for some,
a losing chess game for others,
then for some denizens,
the end game lived out.

So Francis and I entered the room for our visit,
he being a priest brought the Eucharist and holy oil’s
if an anointing was needed,
for the man we were visiting was of the chess game sort,
this piece moved here and there to forestall the end,

which hopefully is still far away.

He was not in his room,
but his wife was,
a truly lovely women of great dignity and beauty,
lovely smile and gracious too a fault.
We talked about her children and how they were doing,
her mother who is 96 whom she is also taking care of.

I asked her if she was taking care of herself,
getting some time off,
she said yes she was doing that,
but I could see that it was a strain for her,
for many people do not understand what care giving entails,
though perhaps one day most will find out,
when the children become the parents
who must lovingly, or not, provide care.

So the Doctor arrived,
he was so thin but he smiled as he got out of this wheel chair,
looking better than I thought he would.

So he settled in,
and Francis being the very good priest he is did not waste time,
he ask:

“So lets get to the point,
how are you doing,
how is your relationship with God”.

Wow I thought,
talking about not wasting valuable time,
but it was the right question,
and I respect Francis for that ability to talk straight when needed,
at other times he knows not to,
but the doctor and he are very good friends
so bluntness is not only appropriate but an act of true friendship and love.

The doctor is a very good man,
actually a deeply loving one,
who helped many people in his life,
kind to those who worked for him to a tee,
taking them each year on a group vacation,
also showing great charity in his services as a doctor,
so he was dearly loved by many,
he certainly is by me and I know by Francis.

He talked about his frustration,
his expectations not being answered,
not being able to make it to his 50th,
his retirement cut short,
and having to share quality with his mother in law,
all said both in all seriousness and with a quality of humor,
a very good mixture,
for what would life be like without the ability to laugh.

An honest man,
before God and before his dear friend Francis.

So Francis said that he understood as much as he could,
since he was not yet sick with a fatal illness,
but he concurred that his feeling were normal,
what else could he do,
but to be open and honest with God about it.

He was afraid,
sorrowful about leaving his loving wife,
whom it was obvious that he adored,
worried about her being alone for she was still very healthy
and could live many more years,
yet also a man of deep faith in God,
embracing in his own way the void he has found himself in.

I said a few words,
but after what Francis there was little to add,
however as I was talking my voice was breaking
and I felt that tears were about to flow
yet did not,
for I am still unable to cry in front of others,
even to really feel deeply,
it seems that I have to be by myself to do that,
perhaps I will never get over this.

So at the end of the visit we brought out the oils,
I said a short prayer,
and Francis also prayed over him,
a very gentle loving prayer,
he let his hands stay on his head a long time,
at times praying,
then longer periods of silence,
then the Eucharist
God with us in the form of bread,
nothing more intimate now humble than that,
so we left after that,
we both embraced the good Doctor and his lovely wife,
as I embraced her I whispered:

“he is blessed to have you, please take care of yourself”,
then we were gone.

It does not matter what ones believes
for when faced with death,
our earthly end,
most of use will be tested dearly,
not by God
but simply by our own souls,
as we hopefully continue our journey to the father,
for God journey’s with us,
so close that only darkness seen,
closer than our bones and morrow,
deeper than our thoughts,
more intimate than our very souls,
for it is in He that all existence flows,
and has it’s being.

Br. Mark Dohle, OCSO
Holy Spirit Monastery


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