Patient souls who follow my tweets may remember that 2 weekends ago I spent much of Saturday and Sunday at the bedside of a rather special lady, who was so frail that it seemed most unlikely that she would survive to celebrate her 85th birthday the following Thursday.
Come the birthday, however, she was not only still with us but remarkably with it in her wakeful interludes, and one week on she continues to confound the medics. Which is fine and lovely in many ways (though there will be hard decisions to be made in the future about how this most independent and feisty woman can be helped to live in her stroke-damaged body) but does pose a few problems about the correct tone for bedside visiting. Some are adopting the resolutely cheerful "Soon have you up and about" approach, others the hushed voices that seemed appropriate when we thought our time together was likely to be measured in hours, not days.
Neither seems right...But nor is there a liturgy for now.
Are we thankful? Of course, because her illness was sudden, and nobody was really ready to let go.
But what do we pray for next?
It seems to me that healing, of whatever kind, might be a long time coming...
So I'm opting for the briefest of visits, and the most general prayers in which I don't have to commit myself.
And that feels like rather a cop-out, specially to one who takes pleasure in finding the "right" words for most situations. I know that God knows what I should be praying for, - and that should be all that matters, but it's always a plus when the words I choose somehow help to make sense of the situation for other people too.
But I'm pretty certain that none of my books have resources for a time like this.
I guess I just keep praying, then...