It’s been the kind of week that you never wish for, not for yourself or for anyone else unless your heart has been perverted by some deep pain or some shallow pleasure. At the earlier part, there was the middle-aged friend whose niece was found unconscious. She continues in a coma, bleeding internally, with neither cause nor cure established. She and her mother had been providing the bulk of the care for the grandmother.
In the middle of the week, another friend attended what would have seemed to be a rather routine hearing in family court. I don’t know a lot of people who have had the opportunity to enjoy the hospitality of family court but every one of them have reported it’s very much like playing Russian Roulette, except the stakes are higher.
As a species, judges in this nation appear to have more raw power and less supervision than any other group that I can think of and it’s virtually impossible to predict what they’re going to do at any given point. I knew one who once ordered a separated couple to exchange their children at noon on Christmas Day, even though the estranged pair lived three-hundred-and-fifty miles away from each other. Neither parent had asked for anything even remotely resembling that; the judge either forgot or didn’t care about the distance between them.
At any rate, our friend left court being directed to pay fifteen hundred dollars for a “home evaluation” before the next hearing and being not one whit closer to resolution of any issues.
On the same day, a young friend of ours, a ten-year-old boy, hit his head when he fell at school and suffered a brain injury. Fortunately, it didn’t require surgery and he appears to be recovering nicely at this point.
Yesterday, I got a text from my daughter Susan, who lives in north central Kentucky, that she’d had to hospitalize her not-quite-one-year-old son. Little Jeremiah has pneumonia and RSV, a pesky little respiratory virus. He’s had a history of health challenges of one type and another. Any parent or grandparent who has had to stand by the hospital bed of a small child and stare at that tangle of tubes and wires knows a very particular pain.
It’s not that the challenges my friends and family are facing are greater than those of others; I know some struggle with graver choices and longer trials. It’s not that I think there’s some sort of unfairness going on here; life is arbitrary and if you’re looking for “fair” you should try the county seat in July. But we are all united in knowing that this life is not stable, not easy and not guaranteed. Accidents happen, tragedies unfold, choices are made. We don’t control circumstances, only our responses to them.
But I also believe that prayer has the power to make both choice and circumstance better. And I also believe it is better for all of us when we are united in that.