Finding Jesus in the hospital

There’s no sign that says, “Jesus,” with an arrow.

Or, if there is, we couldn’t find one as we walked the halls of the Johns Hopkins Hospital looking for the statue of Jesus.

Fortunately, my husband remembered where the statue of “The Divine Healer” was, and he guided our sons and me to the large marble statue standing in the hospital.

There He was. Jesus. Standing under the dome with his arms outstretched, welcoming us in. We gazed up at the statue, looking at the wounds in his hands and feet, noticing the flowers and notes left on the base.

“Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,” read the words carved below him. They are such fitting words for hospital visitors who bring their own worries and fears and questions. Hospitals cannot solve every problem. But they bring healing and hope. Jesus, of course, offers all that—and more.

Our sons found a book of notes and prayers and intentions off to one side. It was full, but they turned to a page with enough space for the names we wanted to include, including the person we had just visited. We don’t know how much time she has left, but we know she’s nearing the end of her journey on this earth.

We had just been to visit her upstairs with our children. I had wondered whether taking them was the right decision, but we had a beautiful visit, full of conversation, laughter, and a few tears. Yet again, our children exceeded my expectations, embracing the encounter with compassion and understanding.

Now we stood gazing up at this statue of Jesus. I had seen it in photos, but never in person. The statue is somehow smaller than I had thought it would be, but also more powerful and impressive.

I found myself thinking of all the ways in which we can encounter Jesus in the people we meet in a hospital—the doctors and nurses, of course, but also in the patients, and in those we love.

The healing Jesus brings isn’t always bestowed on earth. I don’t understand it. But I know that along with asking for healing, we also pray for strength and courage. We ask God to walk on this journey with us.

And He does. This statue shows us a risen Jesus who has conquered death. Death will come to each of us eventually, but the story will not end there.

For now Jesus offers comfort and rest. We might be wishing for more, but maybe for today, that’s what we need the most. He would know.

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Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.