Saturday, October 24, 2009

Astoria 1972

I worked in a hospital in Astoria the year before I married. There was a patient with emphysema who had to be hospitalized several times that year. His name was Mr Hansen. I was always assigned to be his nurse’s aide. We got along really well. He was looking for spiritual comfort. I was a new Christian. We talked about scripture and I prayed for him. He could hardly breathe each time he was admitted but after intensive respiratory treatments he’d get to go home for awhile. The last time he was admitted he was much worse. That day I had to give him a sponge bath, he was too weak to wash himself.

I got off shift at 3pm. I was deeply concerned for him. When I got home I took a nap. I dreamt I was at work looking out the employee lounge window. It was on the second floor of the hospital, on the river side, just a couple of blocks from the Columbia River. You could just catch a glimpse of the river and when ships went by it was like they were going down the street. In my dream I am gazing out this window and two angels were with me. I don’t remember seeing them fly in or anything, just being there on either side of me. I have no visual impression of them and never did “see” them. I had the impression that they were going to take me to heaven, out through the window. I protested and assured them it wasn’t my time yet. That’s when I woke up. It seemed like the dream was about Mr. Hansen. It was profoundly spiritual. Have you had dreams like that? You just can’t shake them off.

I went to a meeting at the church that evening. When it was over I felt more oppressed about Mr Hansen then ever. Astoria is a compact town and I lived in walking distance of everything. This was a good thing since I didn’t own a car. I had walked to the church and the hospital was only a few blocks from there.

Even though it was about 9:30 pm and I knew the hospital was locked to visitors, I walked down to the hospital. I felt drawn there. Mr Hansen was in the corner room on the second floor. The light was off in that room. I looked up there and thought, why am I here and what can I do? I decided to walk up the length of the hospital on the riverside and pray. I prayed and sang worship songs up the deserted street and then back down. The heavy feeling was crushing. I finally reasoned with myself that I wasn’t really accomplishing anything and decided to walk home. I crossed the street and had walked about a quarter the length of the next block when I felt this sudden “lifting” of the heaviness, I can’t explain it any other way. I swung around to look at Mr. Hansen’s room. The light switched on right after I turned around. As I watched an aide came in the room, approached the bed and then exited leaving the light on. I continued to watch as a few moments later several nurses came into the room. I never saw them do this before or since but one of the nurses took the sheet and covered his face with it.

I was filled with an irrational joy and skip/ran home. I called my good friend Alden to report my experience. He told me that at the same time I was out on the street by the hospital he had felt an urge to pray for me. He had called another friend of ours and they had prayed for me together.

Isaiah 46:4—“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

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