Dear nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals, and first responders,
You are no stranger to sickness, suffering, and death. You willingly enter its chaos every workday, and are the first to volunteer your skills and bedside manner on your day off. For that, we thank you.
You run from scene of panic to scene of loss, remaining calm, managing your adrenaline (and your grumbling stomach), still offering compassion. You walk through pandemonium with poise. You choose hope when we cannot. For that, we thank you.
You look the unknown square in the face and say, “Let’s do this.” You skillfully engage your well-trained minds and hands in bleak situations, with a fearlessness and faith to risk in order to bring about the impossible. And when the many mundane tasks arise, you remain diligent and humble. For that, we thank you.
You stand by our bedsides and let us feel human. You see past our filth, our exposed bodies, our disoriented minds, our scared hearts, and you show us our value. You offer us connection; for many of us, especially now, it’s the only connection we will receive. For that, we thank you.
And at the end of the day, exhausted and dirty, you crawl into bed to rest up for the next. And you wake up and do it again. For that, we thank you.
Sometimes, I imagine, you don’t do any of this. The superhero suit has a tear, doesn’t quite fit, or is just too much effort to squeeze into that day. You have anxiety, you doubt healing is possible, you bite back at the critical bark of your patient or coworker, you make a costly mistake, you hide away. And yet you still choose to come back. And, man, for that, we thank you.
In this time of extremes, in which your livelihoods are being demanded of and society’s safety seems dependent on you, as the 12 hour shifts creep later into the night and the layers of precaution become more strenuous, as your sleep turns minimal and your own anxiety and grief seem to have no space, we bless you. Hear this prayer:
“Let us extend kindness and mercy even to those who are too angry, frightened, bitter, or in pain to respond with anything but venom. Let us especially love them, for they suffer—even more than from physical ailment—from a lack of understanding or experience of your overwhelming grace and mercy and love. Let their time with us be to them a taste that might awaken a hopeful hunger in their heart.
We can do none of these things on our own. Apart from your grace, we have no grace to give. So give us your grace in greater measure, O Lord.
Let us find also, in the midst of such constant need, a rhythm of service and rest that will enable our own souls to be tended and nourished—that in the time we spend with patients we will have a deeper repository of patience and kindness to share with them.”
An excerpt from “A Liturgy from Medical Providers” in Every Moment Holy by Douglas Kaine McKelvey.
Know you are seen, appreciated, and worthy of celebration. Let life be breathed into you as you breathe life into others. And finally let us return the favor of letting you feel human. You are not alone. We are here to help.