The last time I had spent this many days here was thirteen years ago.
Its the seventh floor at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon. Thirteen years ago, my dad had spent the last night he would ever spend in the home I grew up in. Admitted the next day into the hospital, he spent a week there before being released to a nursing home where he would pass away just over a month later.
I recall the fear I felt as I got onto the elevator in the lobby to make my way up to the seventh floor. I did not know what I would see. At the time, they said he might not make it through the week.
I just remember walking off the elevator each time reciting the following scripture with every fibre of my being.
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.” – Psalm 118:14 (NLT)
How much was faith and how much was sheer will to want to believe this to be true? I don’t know. And what did victory truly look like this side of heaven anyway? I just know that regardless, the Lord met me there in those footsteps as I walked forth from that elevator and down that hallway towards his room.
He calmed me in those moments. It was as if He simply took my hand as if to say, you are not alone.. we’ll walk together into that room. Frankly, I am sure it mattered not that I even spoke those words in the first place as if to summons some sort of a genie from its bottle to bring aid to my side. He was already there. He is not a genie.
And yet, never in a million years did I ever think that thirteen years later I would find myself here again, on the seventh floor, reciting these same words. But this time, it was for my wife.
One late afternoon after I had stepped off the elevator on the seventh floor to visit my wife, as I stepped into the hallway where my wife’s room was, it led to a window facing west at the other end of the hallway. About that time, the sun was starting to set which in facing west in turn cast the brightest light I had ever seen down the what now seemed a dark hallway. The contrast was gripping.
I took this picture as I stood there and stared at the bright light as if it were some kind of sign or something sent forth by heavenly angels that perhaps in this… everything was going to be alright.
When on the seventh floor of this hospital, you’ll grasp for everything that might just give you anything that remotely resembles a glimpse of hope.
I was captured by the awe and wonder of that which I was seeing. To me, it felt much more like an embrace of sorts rather than a message sent by angels. Not that I don’t believe in angels, because frankly I do, but this seemed more like it was Creator driven rather than that which was driven by the created.
An embrace of sorts. I like this.
Yet, the reaction I had received from the many whom saw this picture when I posted as my Easter inspiration post on Resurrection Sunday with the following caption:
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!”
There was no mention of anything else that might provide any more detail from what I had already shared with the masses in that we needed prayer for something significant but that I had tagged a location on that post for the hospital we were at.
I then had received several comments from friends who were struck by the picture, one of which was a question that stopped me in my tracks.
“How many angels do you see standing shoulder to shoulder in that hallway?” asked my friend Nathan.
This makes me think. What if there were angels on the seventh floor after all?
- “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” – Hebrews 1:14 (NIV)
- “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:11 (NIV)
Perhaps this was His embrace? An embrace in the form of an angel(s) as a reminder to me(us), that He is with us… always.
Imagine the planning it took to pull this off? When He steps off that elevator, cue the embrace. Let’s let him know that he is not alone and that he is truly loved and that his wife, is firmly in our care.
What kind of Love does that? A real One.
What do you see?
READ: Lay Down Your Impossible