“Dr. Newman, I will repeat myself—are you ready to report your findings?”
The young intern straightened in his chair and swallowed back the answer he wanted to give to his esteemed senior colleague. He wanted to tell the truth and confess that his meetings with the old gentleman patient had sunk into a part of himself that they had all been conditioned to deny even existed. He wanted to confess that perhaps the patient wasn’t as delusional as his commitment papers proposed. He wanted to tell the other young men and women seated around the conference table with him that perhaps they would all benefit from further hours of studying and listening to what the gentleman had to say. He wanted to, but as he looked around the room at the combined years of scholarly and practical psychiatric expertise, his courage failed him. Dr. Newman tasted his own fear and pictured himself relegated to the loneliness of a sterile room, labeled as a broken man who had lost all touch with reality. He did not know how to tell what he had learned when he was convinced that no one in the room would believe him.
“Dr. Newman, are you with us today or aren’t you?” Newman’s superior was becoming increasingly impatient with the young doctor’s hesitation.
“I apologize, Sir. I am simply attempting to gather my thoughts on the matter.”
“Why don’t you just start with your notes?”
“Certainly. Yes, that’s a good start. Well, we all know the patient is given to serious bouts of clinical depression. We know he spends much of his time weeping and barking his constant warnings. That is why we have put him in isolation. The other patients simply won’t tolerate him, and no matter what we have tried—apart from the dangerous path of permanent sedation—we cannot persuade him to stop making his predictions.”
“Have you ever witnessed his predictions turning to violent behavior toward the staff or other patients?”
“Oh, no, never. It is true, sometimes he is forceful and loud, but I have also witnessed him pleading with tender tears to be heard. It strikes me as quite curious that not many see that side of him. Definitely, the things he says cause others to immediately shun him, as if his words alone have done them physical harm. If I am to tell the truth, it is the other patients who are a danger to him. In fact, the day I ventured to take him to the common room, and he began delivering his constant messages, in spite of the fact that I begged him not to, was a careless whimsy on my part. One of the more agitated patients actually jumped from the chair where he was playing chess with another patient and ran to Jeremiah and began to pummel him with bare fists before the orderlies had a chance to subdue him.”
“Did your patient fight back?”
“No. Jeremiah cried and began to preach louder.”
“I’m sorry, did you just say the word ‘preach’?”
“Well . . . yes, yes I did. That’s what Jeremiah says he is doing. He says he is preaching to people he knows will not hear him.”
“And that is exactly why he is here. What normal human being would behave in such a way?” came the added comment of a fellow intern.
“Dr. Newman,” the senior colleague began, “according to your hours of observation, what is your next prescribed course of treatment for this most incorrigible patient?”
Dr. Newman wondered if the others could see the twisting conflict he felt. How could he tell them that Jeremiah’s warnings were also laced with beautiful promises for a life beyond imagining? How could he report that some people did hear Jeremiah’s message and were introduced to a hope his colleagues all attempted to deny. How could he share that he now knew Jesus because of Jeremiah?
“For now, it is my suggestion that we leave him right where he is and continue what we have always done. Continue sending young interns to study him. Perhaps someone will be able to break through.” Newman smiled. He knew Jeremiah would not be changed, but he also knew that there might be some young souls who would walk away from him with open eyes thanks to the barkings of a neglected old man. Newman also knew that he wouldn’t always sit in fear of his superiors. Already, the revolt within him had begun.
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