Amazing Grace in a Hospital Atrium

I stand in the atrium of a large city hospital complex. I am waiting for the woman I am meeting, but I am early, so I put in my ear buds and press the Sufjan Stevens album. Amazing Grace begins to play and suddenly I am acutely aware of the words to the music and my surroundings.

Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound

The woman in labor, walking slightly supported by her husband, clearly early in the process as she is still smiling. They walk to the small café, get some juice, preparing for later in the day when she will not be smiling. Today they will welcome a new baby to the world. I already see a glimpse of the joy that is imminent, joy complete at the cry of a newborn.

On the other side of the atrium is an older woman, limping with a cane, a concerned husband by her side, holding her and zealous for her well-being. They too are waiting. Passing time before an appointment or procedure.

That Saved a Wretch Like Me

I catch sight of myself in a reflective window and shake my head. I belong here. With the limping and hurting, with those who need surgery and help.

I once was lost, but now am found

People mill around, many looking lost and slightly dazed. Time has stopped. We are now on hospital time and hospital time is like no other. Hospital time is measured by procedures and diagnoses, bad news and good news, chemotherapy and x-rays. Minutes and hours don’t matter – what matters is what the doctor will tell you and when.

Was Blind But Now I See

A blind man walks in from the street with a service dog followed by a family. It’s unclear why they are there, but their faces show signs of stress and anxiety. What is their story? How have they come to this place at this time? Is it a relative? A mom or dad; grandma or grandpa, sick and in crisis?

T’was Grace That Taught My Heart to Fear

I see the woman I am to meet coming my way and immediately know there is something wrong.

And Grace My Fears Relieved

She tells me in a broken voice that her mother has died. She is leaving for Taiwan in a few days to go be with the rest of her family. We talk about this and I hug her – knowing there is nothing I can say or do, but in faith believing that maybe, just maybe, being present will help ease the hurt. In this place her tears do not bring even a glance. Many have tears in this place.

How Precious Did That Grace Appear

We get down to business and the meeting goes well. And then it is time for both of us to go, to leave this place of those who know they are broken, and go out in the street, to those who think they are whole.

The Hour I First Believed

16 thoughts on “Amazing Grace in a Hospital Atrium

  1. As matter of fact ,most of us need to sing these wonderful words everyday.Amazing Grace could change some ones life if he really thinks about it.

    My regards J M Sabbagh


    1. So true isn’t it? Just last night I had a healthy reminder to “choose grace”. Thanks so much for reading, more so for joining the conversation!


  2. Marilyn, this will be my newest favorite communicatingacrossboundaries (CAB) posting — I love how you juxtapose the words from “Amazing Grace” to your recent hospital experience! My last two hospital adventures were here in Cairo (one for me, one for Dan — both with positive outcomes). Regardless of the country, I can relate to your sentiments expressed here . . .the variety of circumstances that bring people to a place that gathers the less-than-healthy in one place. I want to be more conscious of God’s Grace in all places — you are helping in that regard!

    Thanks good friend, for all your CAB postings! Love, Ann


    1. This comment made me so happy! You say it so well when you wrote “The variety of circumstances that bring people to a place that gathers the less-than-healthy in one place….” that’s it exactly. And I wish I was with you in your hospital experiences, because they aren’t easy alone.


  3. Today, at work, was a bit melancholy as some patients were getting bad news, some were doing poorly and their disease progressed and some needed hospitalization. Read the post at work and it was a source of encouragement. Sometimes it is easy to go about one’s day or week forgetting we, too, are broken and in need of the grace so freely given yet at so precious a price.


    1. Thanks for this Lou Ann – I actually thought of you while at the hospital. It used to be part of an everyday routine for me and it’s not anymore. Sometimes I wish it was. It is such a grounding to reality and the privilege of entering people’s lives at critical periods in their life. Thinking of you.


  4. Amen, sister. Eyes wide open, you hear the heavenly anthem amid the cries of pain. We all walk in the valley, dark but with streams flowing that will reflect the sunrise. We sorrow, not as those who have no hope. In His children, His presence comforts with promise.


  5. Wow, this post is really amazing, Marilyn. It made me recall the times I’ve spent in the hospital, with friends. Watching their lives slip away, yet being in awe of their faith and stamina – they knew they were broken people. And that *knowing* made them fearless. They depended on God for their next breath. They were different.
    I wonder if we would be the same, if we would just see our brokeness day to day. If we saw just how dependent we are on God’s grace. I think we would be different, too.


    1. Thank you Jessica – there is something about a hospital and your description on the dependence of God is so right on. But I especially love your last thought. I don’t think we would be the same.


      1. Please don’t give up….you are an amazing writer and have such a beautiful heart. I don’t comment a lot as I’m not really a wordsmith, but your blogs touch me deeply. I look forward to reconnecting with you this summer at the reunion in Illinois! (I saw your name on the list)


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