On Mother’s Day, Medicine, and Wood Chippers

Many years ago, my son had a bad asthma attack. It was so bad we took him to the ER of Children’s Hospital about 1:00 in the morning.

We had never been to Children’s ER before.  We went through the double doors which led straight into the huge waiting room where we were greeted by a surprising crush of humanity. 

It was 1:00 o’clock on a Wednesday morning in July and there must have been over 100 people crammed into the waiting room.

They were sweaty, loud, smelly, children crying, arguing….all I could think of when I saw the room was that this must be the first circle of hell.

We made our way to the front desk, explained to the Unit Manager why we were there, and she asked us, “Any insurance?”

My wife “C” handed her our insurance card, she took one look at it, and said, “Could you follow me, please?”, motioning us to a door on her left.

The Unit Manager took us down a lone hallway and into another waiting room that was an exact replica of the one we just left except this room was completely empty. 

She brought us to a private exam room where an ER nurse gave my son oxygen and an IV in less than a minute.  In 5 minutes he was breathing normally and asleep.

I could tell something was bothering C by her puzzled look, and she finally asked, “May I ask where we are?  Is this a special ward for asthmatics?”

The nurse smiled and said, “No, ma’am, this is our ward for people with insurance.”

Despite our gratitude for the care our son received, the “mother” in C was bothered for days by what she experienced.  It’s been over 20 years now and it still bothers her. 

Just down the hall was an entire mob of mother who were just as concerned about their children’s health as she was, but because we were fortunate to have a little insurance card, our son was getting 1st World healthcare, while those mothers could only get their children 3rd World medical care.

Imagine the pain of a mother who knows that, try as she may, the best she can get for her son or daughter is 3rd world medical care.  In the richest nation in history, it’s not right. Not at all.

We celebrate Mother’s Day today because of the heart mothers have for their children.  Those hearts have nurtured children and save lives for millennia.  We see their love for their children by the way they live their lives and sacrifice so much for them.  We don’t need any more proof of their love for their children than how they their lives.

We hear how complicated healthcare is here in the US, and we hear lots of debates about why some mother sit in Lobby #1 while others sit in Lobby #2.  Jesus had something to say about “complicated arguments” in today’s Gospel, John 14: 1-14.

The apostles had all kinds of questions and thoughts about a complicated God…who was God, what was God like…and they kept nagging Jesus about it in the Gospels:  “Just show us the Father,” they said in today’s passage.  “That’s all we ask.” 

Jesus replied, “Guys, guys, guys…stop it…you’re making this way too complicated.  Remember what you’ve seen with your own eyes over the last couple of years?  Haven’t you been with me all this time?  Remember the miracles?  You’re making this way too complicated…

“Look: God and I are one.  You see me, you see God.  You hear me, you hear God.  It’s so simple you’re missing it and it’s right in front of you.  Do you want to know God?  Get to know me!”

That’s the way of people, though…we make things complicated when things are simple.  We deny the reality of nature right in front of us.  We don’t believe our own eyes. 

Like a very wise woman told me once, “Things aren’t complicated; they’re simple.”

Want to know about healthcare in our country?  Take a walk through Lobby #1 and then through Lobby #2.  You will learn a lot.  Sit with a mother who can only access 3rd World medical care for her son or daughter and listen to her.  You will hear all you need to know to realize something is desperately wrong in our nation about healthcare. 

This day is not easy for many people today.  We are celebrating a day to honor mothers and some people don’t have pleasant emotions about today.  Some people are not mothers and don’t want to be…other people are not mothers but want to be, but aren’t or can’t…other people grieve deeply on this day for many, many reasons.  Your pain makes me sad and I am sorry for your pain on this day.

I also have high hopes for our society, and my hopes are high because of the mothers among us.  Moms are not real patient when it comes to the welfare of their children.  Think of Mothers Against Drunk Driving or the Anti-bullying initiatives.  You mess with their children and you are about to walk into a wood chipper.  I sincerely believe that mothers will save our healthcare just like women will be the ones who will save our churches.

After all, it was women who first realized Jesus had risen from the dead when they went to his grave to care for his remains.  The apostles were still back in the upper room wringing their hands and wondering what to do next.  The women knew what to do: take care of business that is right in front of you.  They took care of Jesus.  They see things for what they truly are by looking at them with their own eyes.

That’s why I believe women will save civilization.  We just need to get out of their way and help them WHEN asked and AS asked.

This is based on a sermon given by me at St. John’s-Tower Grove on Mother’s Day, 2017.


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