“Can you say more about that?” is a diagnostic question that many of my hospital chaplain colleagues will ask a patient to get them to unpack the details of their stories.
Several of my readers put me on the receiving end of that question this week in reference to the columns I’ve written in the past few months. Therefore, this column will be an effort to “say more about that.”
First, several of you emailed asking me about my youngest daughter, who had been visiting her sister in South Carolina when she was stricken with inexplicable liver and kidney failure.
I’m glad to report that she has been discharged from the Charleston hospital and will no longer require kidney dialysis. Doctors said the incident was likely the “perfect storm” of an infection, dehydration and a few too many Tylenol products.
Her liver also has recovered. Our daughter is back home in Sacramento looking for employment.
Many of you wrote because you had been expecting an update about my daughter in the column that followed, but since we were still waiting on some test results, I remained silent. Instead of an update, I submitted my annual column of personal book recommendations and asked you to suggest titles for next year’s list.
I was intrigued by some of your suggestions as they proved my list woefully shortsighted. While I’ve not had time to read any of the books you suggested, I did find some of them interesting enough to add to my nonfiction list for next semester. Your suggestions are as follows:
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skoots
“What’s so Amazing about Grace?” by Philip Yancey
“Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother” by Sonia NazarioI
“The Sunflower” by Simon Wiesenthal.
In an October column, I wrote about a bothersome church woman from my high school years who asked me, “Have you received the gift of the Holy Spirit?”
Several readers from the charismatic tradition perceived some impatience on my part and graciously suggested I consider the validity of the woman’s idea.
After I re-read my writing, I realized that I failed to let you know how perpetually annoying the woman had become to me as well as several others in the church.
In other words, this wasn’t just a simple single question that was asked and answered. It had become a persistent barrage of judgment coming through repetitive interrogations.
Finally, in the November column I called, “Don’t be a Zax,” I told you about how I’d settled a 13-year hurt with a fellow chaplain by finally complying with Jesus’ advice: “If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him — work it out between the two of you. If he listens, you’ve made a friend.”
I got a lot of email about this one — some from people who shared the relief of having recently forgiven another and also from readers who still are looking for the courage to approach the one who hurt them.
In the six weeks since our meeting, we’ve exchanged a few emails that have assured me our get-together was genuine.
And although the emails haven’t spawned any blossoming friendship, I think I can say without equivocation that our granting of mutual forgiveness was one of the most important things I’ve ever experienced.
And that’s all I have to say about that.