Empty and Full
Void. Echoes filled my living room. What was wrong? My husband made the same comment: ‘something was missing.’ Our house seemed as if its soul was gone. And it was.
Matthew was not in the house. He developed one of those jerky things that might be a seizure that might continue on and on until all the energy in his brain had been expended and then no one knew what the outcome would be.
He donated blood to prove he was healthy, except for his traumatic brain injury, which had stolen his voice and his persistent motion. We had taken him to the emergency room, where his arms no longer accepted needles with the intent of taking even more blood. So, the nurse went to his feet. She warned us. It would be painful. His dad held his leg on the table as she poked. It hurt. I could see it on his face. I held the hand that had not stopped trembling for nearly a week. Hand holding during needle sticks began with childhood shots and have continued many years. Nurses stuck him with needles as I held his left hand for whatever comfort he could gain from this simple act.
After the second trip to emergency, he was transferred to the hospital for observation and hopefully some positive outcome. That’s where he was when I came home to an empty house. Even though our youngest child is 26, we have never really experienced being empty nesters so our home felt a void I had rarely experienced. It was eerie.
I thought about why the presence of a non-verbal young man in a wheel chair, or resting in his bed for a change of posture, made a house feel warm and cozy and full of love. It took days to ponder.
It was the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in him. The Holy Spirit around him. The Holy Spirit that kept him alive and surrounded him. It was with him in the hospital. I am certain of it because the nurses and aides who only tend to the IV’s attached to his foot, flock to the room to be with us. We tend to his cares as if he were home, except for the machines that dispense IV fluids. We engage the staff in conversation and interest in their lives and families. Their countenance changes over the days: from just doing their job, to being open about the challenges of what they do. We say ‘thank you’ for Matt a dozen times a day.
This is the work of the Holy Spirit. The boy who cannot say words speaks volumes because of the love that surrounds him. The boy who cannot move independently, moves the hearts of those who work with him and care for him. The boy who is ill touches the souls of those who enter his room.
My living room hosts this same spirit. And I miss it when it is absent. This same spirit goes with us as we live and move in the love of Christ. It fills the space around us. It touches those with whom we come in contact. It changes lives. Breathe in this Holy Spirit. Breathe it out and fill the space you occupy, for there is a fragrance of joy and peace and love within it. And its absence is noticeable.