As Lent approached, I had many plans on how I was going to use these forty days for my spiritual growth. I knew at what time I was going to go to the Ash Wednesday service and had decided on the retreat I would attend the first weekend in Lent. I had already decided what needed spring-cleaning (Lenten Series: Spring Cleaning) and I knew where I wanted to worship (Lenten Series: A Place to Call Home). I was geared up and ready to go on my inward journey during Lent. Little did I know that my plan was not what was planned for me. A higher being had also made plans and His took over mine.
On Ash Wednesday, I had to take my husband to the Emergency Room. He hadn't been feeling well and was taking medication but it just didn't seem to help any longer. I knew he was feeling pretty rotten when he asked me to take him to the ER because he absolutely hates going there. So, thinking this was a quick run to the ER, I sent an email to my co-workers and told them I would be off for a few hours and I'd be back later on that afternoon. After about an hour or so, the ER doctor comes in and tells us that he will remain in the ER for a few hours because his white blood count was three times the normal high. He wanted to hydrate my husband for about six hours and re-do the tests to see if things had improved. I won't go into all the details, but the end result was that my husband was transferred to another facility where he was admitted for pneumonia and uncontrolled diabetes. He was there for seven days.
Needless to say, I was unable to attend Ash Wednesday service or the retreat I had been looking forward to. I hate having my plans changed, yet I was not upset at all this time around. My husband was very ill and all I wanted was to remain by his side until he was home. His hospital stay was filled with yays and yikes. One minute he was improving and the next he had gone downhill. It was definitely a roller coaster ride. But one thing remained unchanged: the unconditional love we received.
During this time, we received so many text messages, phone calls, and emails from loved ones near and far. Thanks to the social media networks, people who wouldn't otherwise have known about his hospitalization, were showing their support. There even was a little six year old girl that we had never met, praying for my husband. We were in awe. We just couldn't believe the outpour of love that we were surrounded by.
Lent is a time for us to look inward and work on those areas within us that need to change. I was learning a lesson that I wouldn't have learned had this whole ordeal not happened. I was learning that reaching out to someone in need was as simple as sending an email, making a phone call or a quick text stating "I'm thinking of you. You are in my thoughts and prayers." Many times we think that because we don't go visit the sick or work at the food bank or volunteer at the local community center, we aren't doing anything to spread the love. That's exactly what I thought. How wrong I was! With so much technology we have today, spreading the love is just taking on a different means. Go volunteer at the hospital. Go teach someone to read. If you can't, no fear. Send someone an "I'm thinking of you" message. Make a quick phone call. Post a smile on someone's wall. Show love by using everything you have at your disposal. The recipient will feel the warmth even in the smallest details. And you, the sender, will not only be living love by giving it away to someone that needs it, but you will be the reason the recipient feels the need to pay it forward as well.
Carmen D Rivera-Gomez
Isabela, Puerto Rico
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