Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A day of visitors

Cait and Anne appeared mid-day yesterday to collect Nancy. She called when she got home to let me know she actually walked out of the hospital -- no need of a wheel chair.

It was a day of overlapping visitors: First Cait and Anne, then soon afterward Fr. Sergei Ovsiannikov (bringing communion), then Maryleen Schiltkamp, and finally Tom and Kylie, who left a little after eight. Nearly eight hours of guests!

Fr. Sergei told me about the visit over the weekend of the monk and iconographer Zenon, whom I had interviewed at his monastery in Russia back in 1987 when I was writing Pilgrim to the Russian Church and who later became part of Praying with Icons in the chapter on the making of icons. He came to Amsterdam to look at our church and, having done so, gave a lecture after the liturgy on Sunday about how best to make use of a basilica-type building.

I had never received communion apart from the liturgy before. It can be done quite simply, Fr. Sergei explained, but he had decided to preface communion with many elements of the liturgy so that what we were doing might be an extension of the full liturgy in the church the day before. It was an intense experience. I was asked to do some of the reading, including the creed, and found myself weeping with gratitude that I was part of a community spanning many centuries which has said these words day after day. Fr. Sergei turned the small table at the side of my bed into a simple altar, as you see in the photo. (Several other pictures taken yesterday have been added to the Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/sets/72157602782265033/.)

Maryleen arrived just after communion and, following Fr. Sergei’s departure, told me more about Zenon’s lecture. Now I feel as if I had almost been present to hear it. Maryleen is an artist -- a painting she gave us years ago hangs in our living room. She and Tom Collord have a gallery show opening this Friday in Amsterdam. They will be hanging it tomorrow.

Tom and Kylie arrived as Maryleen was leaving. We mainly talked books. Tom estimates Kylie reads about five books a week. She insists it’s no more than three. Our cheerful conversation was interrupted by my noticing the bed felt damp and then discovering the blanket was soaking up blood. It turned out to be a leak on the small plastic sack that had been attached to the place where the catheter to Nancy’s kidney had been cut yesterday. In fact the bleeding had stopped hours before, but the stopper on the sack had somehow come loose, freeing the contents. The little dramas of healing!

Medically, my big hope for today is that the catheter connected to my bladder can be removed. Using a tiny lens on a thin cable, they’ll be taken a look at the inside of the bladder to be sure it has healed well from the small wound made in connecting it to Nancy’s kidney.

One has to say that modesty takes a different form for hospital patients.


Olympiada said...

Wow Jim, thank you. Thank you for the part about communion, I have often wondered at how communion takes place outside the liturgy. Thank you for telling us about your friends who are artists and readers, that's inspiring. And I totally sympathize with you about losing one's ability to be modest how one would like to be in the hospital. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Dear Jim and Nancy,

Last week, I found your weblog linked to an e-mail of Church and Peace. I have been praying and thinking about you since.

God bless you and your family

Janna Wim margit