When I was a student chaplain in the children’s hospital section of Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Jersey, I was called to sit and wait with parents whose son was being cut out of his car by the jaws of life. They had been to the scene and sent to the hospital to await his arrival. Down I rushed, in my standard black suit with my chaplain badge prominent around my neck.
When the mom saw me, a horrible thing happened. She dropped to the floor – literally dropped – as if the very life had been sucked out of her, she dropped and began screaming her pain and agony.
She thought my presence meant he had died. After about the half second it took me to realize what was happening, I did the only thing I could think to do – I dropped to the ground beside her. I laid as close as I could get to her and put my face right into hers. I called her by name. And I began to tell her that her son was not dead. . . that she had seen him with her own eyes and knew he lived. I touched her, I held her, I pulled her face into mine and we laid in the middle of that hospital hallway floor together until she could see me and hear me and believe me.
I’m sure it was only moments, but it seemed like forever, that time when she could see or hear nothing except me dressed in black, come, she was sure, to tell her the worst news of her life. Somehow the moments passed and slowly we arose, hands held together and slowly she could believe that if I was an angel, it was not as the Angel of Death that I came, but as the Angel of Love.
That’s how I see God in my woundedness . . . lying there on the floor beside me . . . speaking softly, gently, persistently, into my heart, that my worst fears are not true, that God is right there, that the dawn comes. I, of course, was and am limited by skin, but not so God, who lies not beside us, but crawls up inside the hardest parts of us . . . the dark places where no dawn has ever been . . . and whispers . . . I am here . . . fear not.
God of the dawn, yes, but even more, God of our darkness. . . Lord of our sickness . . . Ruler of our lies . . . Healer of our brokenness . . . Companion of our lostness . . . Lover of our worst selves . . . Inhabiter of the worst of our black holes . . . there in all of what we would hide even from ourselves, lives the Bringer of the Dawn.