Last evening I had a very novel and powerful experience which I want to share with you....
Some of you may know that in the past few months I have had periods of increasing fatigue. An anemia was diagnosed for which a monthly vitamin B12 shot was prescribed; however, there was a slow progression of the anemia accompanied by an even greater level of fatigue. But then last Friday night "it" really hit me...shortness of breath, dizzyness and exhaustion upon doing anything other than quiet sitting. This physical "wipe-out" precipitated a visit to the Baylor Hospital emergency room where I was told that my level of blood hemogloblin concentration was about one half of that which it had been most of my life. Let me tell you that when your "tank" is half empty of oxygen-carrying blood cells, you don't move around very much! Monday, I was blessed to be able to get to a hematologist. The "why" for the significant anemia is still unknown and more studies will probably be necessary but intervention was possible. I was "waddled' across the street to another hospital building, plopped into a great big chair, and (after an appropriate waiting period to type and cross-match) was infused with a unit of blood. Whereas I had weakly walked into the Infusion Unit, several hours later, I walked out with strength and a normal breathing pattern. I felt like a "new" person...one who now had a "blood tank" which could be calibrated on the "near-to-full" side than my previous low readings.
As I drove home from the hospital, I thanked God for the little transformative miracle which had given back to me my usual vigor. It was then that I started to sense something very new - yet also very profound and complex. In my newly found strength, breath and joy, I sensed the living presence of someone else in my own body...a living presence cruising along the complex pattern of blood vessels...giving me the support and oxygen nourishment that was needed by my muscles and brain.
Now this may seem a little spooky or crazy - and I immediately realized that. But it is true that now, in the blood volume which nourishes and cares for me, there exists someone else's life-giving force and blood. Someone whom I will never know...never meet...never get to thank. This other person may or may not be like me. We may have many differences relative to gender, race, age, education, language, religion and cultural background; but we do share the greatest of all common gifts. This person and I were both created into the universal brother/sisterhood of humanity by a loving God! This other person, whom I'll never get to thank, had shared her (his?) love and respect for our common God-given humanity by donating some of their own living blood as a compassionate support to an "unknown other" - who turned-out to be me. For the next couple of months while their red blood cells circulate in my body, we will be "brother-humans" who are connected by the deep mystery of the Divine's loving gift of life to all humanity.
St Francis recognized this universal brother/sisterhood of all humanity (although without the transfusion experience), because he clearly saw that in the divine creation of each person there exists the love and purpose of God. The Psalms tell us that "we are all the sheep of God's flock"...we are all the created children of God. Our differences are very superficial; we all share in our common humanity this basic truth that we EQUALLY belong to God.
It pains me that I have to write of this other person in such a non-specific manner as "other". They have demonstrated their love for humanity in such a significant manner that I should be able to reach-out and thank them face to face...to speak of their proper human identity and name. But I guess that I'll have to simply say a special prayer of thanks to God for them and their God-given love for humanity. I will also pray for renewed and strengthened love for ALL of God's created humanity to be reflected in all areas of my own life. And like St Francis' example, I'll simply call that life-giving red blood presence now within me...my Brother...my Sister.
Thanks be to God! Peace and love to all.