Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Enter (02/27/06)
TITLE: Knock To Enter
By Howard Reed
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As I took my seat in the oncology clinic of a major university hospital my fear was palpable. What would be the effects of the treatment? Would the regime of drugs be successful? How would I get through this? The temptation was strong to simply get up and walk out. I don’t deal with unpleasantness well.
The nurses and doctors were attentive, caring and clinical in their dealings with me. But I knew something was missing. Why could I not simply banish my fear with the thought that these were highly competent people who had cared for hundreds if patients in the same way. They understood what I was going through. But it still wasn’t enough. My fear remained.
I scanned the large room. What I saw made things worse. Patients in varying degrees of illness spread out around the clinic. Some looked perfectly fine while others were clearly in serious trouble. There were some who could not be differentiated from visitors and those who had been ravaged by their disease, their treatment, or both. No help for me there.
The reclining chair next to me which up until now had been emptied was suddenly filled the presence of a thin, frail looking woman. As she settled in she began to unload her canvas bag which seemed to be a bottomless pit. A cell phone, MP3 player, bottled water, magazines, and a knitting project appeared on the table between us. Here was someone who knew the ropes, I thought. She was ready for what was to come. She wore a distinctive hat to cover her hair loss and knew all of the staff by name. She was smiling and confident. She looked me over and smiled with the clear recognition that I was a newbie in this place. Soon after we were both hooked up to our respective medication drips I saw her take from her bag a small piece of paper the size of a business card with two lines of print down the centered. She silently handed me the slip of paper, extended her reclining chair, turned on her personal music player, leaned back and closed her eyes.
Printed on the card was what was to become my mantra for the next year of therapy and for anytime fear overcame me. The words “O Lord, make haste to help us, O Lord make speed to save us.” Fourteen words that in an instant made me understand what was missing and why I was having such difficulty. I had forgotten to ask to enter. Knock and the door shall be opened. The answer was simplicity itself. As I repeated these words over and over during the next twelve months sometimes substituting me for us and other times including all who sat with me in that room I was reminded about how often we think we can manage everything ourselves. We fancy ourselves to be independent, intellectual creatures who can think ourselves out of trouble. We are not, and cannot. Thank God.
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