Their family was one of the first to welcome Staci and me as their shiny, new curate. They were particularly excited because, as many of you know, both of us had come out of the camp/youth ministry world and they had three adolescent boys. Decades have obviously passed, but they all transitioned from parishioners to longtime friends, including their eldest being our son Gage’s Godfather. Their middle son pursued a career in Emergency Medicine and established himself in a midsize community close to outdoor activities he loves. As an ER doctor and a father of two younger children, he amazingly found time to write a book which his mother proudly shared with us a couple months ago.
Trauma Room Two is a wonderful collection of our friend’s deep personal reflections as an ER doctor. In a very transparent, vulnerable way it describes what has gone on in his mind amidst the daily trauma in the ER.
All of us, to a greater or lesser degree, interact with others during the course of the work we do. For many, this is the most difficult part of their day. Whether it be cranky customers, demeaning bosses, or gossiping coworkers, the “human interaction factor” can undoubtedly take a toll on us. Reading Trauma Room Two makes it clear that the same is true for an ER doctor.
All of us are faced with challenging human interactions. However, the greater challenge is to not become jaded and judgmental in ways that inevitably pigeonhole us into boxes: “You know those lawyers…” “Those elitist rich people…” “Those poor people…” “Those Muslims…” How are we to respond?
The horrific tragedies that took place last week in Paris have once again corporately tempted us to question how we will respond to the most challenging of human interactions – when another life has been taken. Reactive response is understandable, but in the end isn’t the most helpful or the healthiest.
My friend and colleague Bishop Pierre Whalon, of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe (and resident of Paris), shared the following in an Episcopal News Service article:
“How can we pray this prayer of all prayers, here in Paris, the day after?”
He then went on to suggest, “When we baptize or confirm people, Episcopalians always repeat the promise to ‘strive for justice and peace among all people’… We need, therefore, to chart a way to make peace. Peace, not appeasement or total war. In order to be able to do that, we first need to turn back to Jesus and ask for help.
O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 818)
Human interactions at all levels can be difficult at a minimum and life-ending in the most extreme situations. Either way, we are called to the same: respect the dignity of every human being, and strive for justice and peace among all people.