Volume 34, No. 13
Living in Moments of Intensive Care
This has been an unpredictable and difficult season for each and every one of us. As people of faith, we have sought to live out our Christian love by protecting our congregation and our neighbors from the harm of the coronavirus. We have done this by being the church out in the world and online as we’ve remained at home rather than congregating in a church building. It’s been exhausting and frustrating to wrap ourselves in isolating loneliness as we continue to wait out the deadly effects of the pandemic. As of the writing of this article, Dallas County is hitting record numbers of new COVID-19 cases and Intensive Care Units are once again full. It seems we will need to continue to stay home as much as possible while we work to find ways to care for ourselves and one another from afar.
It has also been an unpredictable and difficult season as we have faced a civil rights moment many of us have never before experienced. As structures and systems of racism continue to be uncovered in our city and nation, those of us who are white are beginning to see the many places and the many ways we have not cared for our black neighbors or listened to their stories of systemic racism and generational pain. Many black lives are in the intensive care unit of society and need others to be present with them and provide care, concern, and change.
I’m spending a lot of time in intensive care areas these days, both online and in person. One of those places is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of Baylor Hospital. My son, Radford Michael Gregg (Ford), was born over ten weeks early and is struggling to breathe. I guess I never realized how much breath meant for life and how proper breath is a sign of care and concern. Ford is healthy in every way possible but his little, underdeveloped lungs just aren’t functioning like they should quite yet.
The NICU is a stressful place, a place where every beeping monitor, every cry, every movement of a nurse is seen and evaluated. One of my friends from Atlanta, a mother of a NICU baby, put it like this: “If there is a God, he watches over these NICU babies. We were there for 32 days. It’s a hard, but beautiful place. Every family from the NICU watches the next.”
Every family watches the next. We, as NICU families, are invested in each other and care about one another and want every single life in that room to grow and thrive. And providing that care for each other is definitely intense. Thanks to Royal Lane’s commitment to the staff, I’ve been on parental leave for over four weeks. I am grateful for the space and time I’ve received for me to care for my daughters, wife, and premature son. But it hasn’t been easy and it will continue to be a difficult journey for my family. However, in the midst of this unpredictability, intensive care is needed for Ford, my family, and myself. Thank you for providing care for us. We are in an “intensive care” moment.
Whether it be the breath of racial freedom, the muted breath of masked faces seeking to protect one another, the strained breathing on ventilators, or the CPAP machine in the NICU keeping nascent lungs filled, we are experiencing very intense times right now. It is my breath-filled prayer that as we go through these unpredictable and heavy moments together, we might try to care for one another just a little bit more. The world needs some intensive care. I’d love for us to do what the initials for the Intensive Care Unit suggest. I-C-U… I see you. I hope we seek to really see each other and care for one another, now, more than ever.