Keeping Your Face Hidden

 

 

 

 

 

Vast whisp-whisp of wingbeats
awakens me and I look up
at a minute-long string of black geese’
following low past the moon the white
course of the snow-covered river and
by the way thank You for
keeping Your face hidden, I
can hardly bear the beauty of this world
~Franz Wright from “Cloudless Snowfall”

 

 

 

A psalm of geese
labours overland

cajoling each other
near half…

The din grew immense.
No need to look up.

All you had to do
was sit in the sound

and put it down
as best you could…

It’s not a lonesome sound
but a panic,

a calling out to the others
to see if they’re there;

it’s not the lung-full thrust of the prong of arrival
in late October;
not the slow togetherness

of the shape they take
on the empty land
on the days before Christmas:

this is different, this is a broken family,
the young go the wrong way,

then at daybreak, rise up and follow their elders
again filled with dread,
at the returning sound of the journey ahead.
~Dermot Healy from A Fool’s Errand 

 

 

 

We are here to witness the creation and abet it. We are here to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each mountain shadow and each stone on the beach but, especially, we notice the beautiful faces and complex natures of each other. We are here to bring to consciousness the beauty and power that are around us and to praise the people who are here with us. We witness our generation and our times. We watch the weather. Otherwise, creation would be playing to an empty house.
~Annie Dillard from The Meaning of Life
 edited by David Friend

 

 

I am overwhelmed by the amount of “noticing” I need to do in the course of my work.  Each patient, and there are so many,  deserves my full attention for the few minutes we are together.  I start my clinical evaluation the minute I walk in the exam room and begin taking in all the complex verbal and non-verbal clues offered by another human being.

How are they calling out to me as they keep their faces hidden?

What someone tells me about what they are feeling may not always match what I notice:  the trembling hands, the pale skin color, the deep sigh, the scars of self injury.  I am their audience and a witness to their struggle; even more, I must understand it in order to best assist them.  My brain must rise to the occasion of taking in another person, offering them the gift of being noticed and being there for them, just them.

This work I do is distinctly a form of praise: the patient is the universe for a few moments and I’m grateful to be watching and listening. When my patient calls out to me, may they never feel they are playing to an empty house. May I always look for the beauty in their hidden faces.

7 thoughts on “Keeping Your Face Hidden

  1. oh to have a doctor like you. I have been in the medical system more in the last month than I like. had a follow-up mammogram, ultrasound. now need biopsy. went to er yesterday after a fall. this am back. a small break on either side of wrist. now in splint. could be worse. go back in one week. I hope each medical worker has been observing me and providing accurate responses. I don’t like being in this revolving door.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Powerful reality here, Emily…in your personal and professional observations and in Healy’s and Dillard’s poetry.
    There were several doctors whom I still fondly remember from my youth who went beyond their expected norm and exhibited compassionate care of their patients and, like you, cared enough to try to discern the ‘real’ problem(s) hidden beyond those worried, hopeful eyes. That attitude, in itself, may be the first step in the healing process. Physical wounds and illnesses can be visually seen and diagnosed with the aid of lab testing and medical technology’s vast array of machines and cameras that see inside the body. Emotional illness and wounded souls cannot be seen nor easily discerned. Caring physicians, I believe, are not alone in their healing ministry. They are given the needed Graces to ‘see with the eyes of Jesus’ – the greatest of all body and soul Healers.

    Liked by 1 person

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