As a young girl, I decided to be a nurse when I grew up. It was like a holy calling, and I thoroughly romanticized the profession. In my day-dreams, I rode a horse as I went on house calls through the countryside, arriving just in time to rescue despairing children and save lives.
It’s not that I didn’t do my homework. I actually undertook my first research project at the age of eight on the subject of nurses. Aided by my father and the local library, I scanned books and encyclopedia articles, coming up with a manuscript several chapters long and fully illustrated. My parents supplied me with a box of 32 brand new Crayolas for the project. I imaginatively entitled it, “Nurses.”
That was all well and good until, in the messiness of Real Life, I discovered I did not have a stomach for blood, vomit and such. Gradually, my holy calling slipped by the way side.
My next calling was to be an actress. Not a movie star, but a Serious Actress. On stage. In the pre-adolescent years, a friend and I formed a neighborhood drama club. Our intention was to write and produce plays for the all the people, adults and children, who lived around us. The dreaming and planning part was fun, and we came up with several notebooks of well-drawn costume designs. But we never managed to actually produce any plays. But I did write skits for our church youth group and gained somewhat of a reputation as a playwright. The three-act murder mystery I wrote in the 7th grade was put on by my classmates for the whole middle school, with parents invited. I insisted on playing the lead role, figuring I had that right since I wrote the play. (The role happened to be the criminal, the maid who actually “dunit.”) It was all great fun.
My participation in high school drama further cemented my resolve not to go to college, but to enroll in the Pasadena Playhouse for professional training. Somehow, in the mysterious ways of God’s interventions, I ended up at George Fox College. Granted, my first major was in theater, but after one year that gave way to world literature, which by my junior year had become Spanish. I graduated with a Spanish major and a desire to serve God overseas. Another holy calling.
Down through the years it’s dawned on me that my first calling is to write, whether it’s an illustrated volume entitled “Nurses,” a three-act murder mystery, or a manual on writing designed to help Bolivian Quakers write their own materials. I’ve gradually come to describe my vocation as being “to discover and express the grace of God, hidden in the ordinariness of life.” I can carry that out no matter what particular task I happen to be doing, wherever I happen to be doing it.
At the moment the place is our home in Newberg and the task is to nurse Hal back to health. It comes full circle. Nurse Nancy is back in the saddle.
After several weeks battling an infection, Hal had emergency surgery to open a blocked bladder. It was an “in-and-out” operation, and after about six hours in the hospital, I brought him home. That was last week. Since then, we’ve followed a regimented schedule of medications, rest, exercise, rest, meals, and more rest. It’s Hal that does the resting, not me. But I’ve discovered that even emptying urine bags can become so routine as to lose all offensiveness. To help break the monotony, we’re watching “Foyle’s War” on Netflix. We’re going to manage to get in all the episodes, from all seven series.
And can you guess where God’s grace is hiding these days? It’s right here in our apartment. In abundance.
And here am I, writing about it.