The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Finding peace in the middle of fizzledom

Life fizzles.

Life drizzles.

Life drips.

Just like in my book Rain Romp.

And let’s face it–sometimes when it rains we cannot go out and stomp in the puddles and get our grouchy feelings out.

I’m just home from a speaking trip that honored the 25th year of the Lion and Lamb center at Bluffton University in Ohio, a center that uses children’s literature and art and music and other zingy things to spread the word that we can make peace and have peace even in the middle of fizzledom…which is particularly poignant and relevant given that a flood wiped out the beautiful Lion and Lamb space where I should have been meeting with kids to talk about my books.

Since, of course, I’ve written about surviving flood, seeing the flooded-out rooms made me wince…I looked at the ugly floors, at the beautiful peace symbols and statues all crunched together waiting for their new space, and felt a big OUCH.

But I also felt weirdly uplifted at the reminder…inner peace in the middle of pain.

I needed this message from the universe right about now.  While my sweetie traveling companion and I were in China, he had a health emergency that ended him in the People’s Number One Hospital of…well…it wasn’t totally clear how to end that title, but he ended up in a Chinese government hospital for observation for three days.

It wasn’t quite like an Ethiopian government hospital, but I learned many interesting things about the insides of a Chinese hospital, or at least THIS Chinese hospital.

Here, a nurse is changing the outside part of the blanket that covered the bed.

He got good care and inexpensive care…but there were some pretty startling details.

No food service.

Yes smoking.

Clothes drying on the balcony.

Cat scan stored under the mattress.

An interesting mix of patients in the room.

The hospital had figured out how to have basic communication with people who don’t speak Chinese–using pictures.  The kind elementary librarian from one of the schools where I spoke also scrambled around to find folks who could stay during the day and translate.

At one point, I was told that the last step before dismissal was an MRI and it might take several days to get that.  Angel, our translator for the day, tried to argue the case that my sweetie should get all of his tests–x-ray, MRI, and so on–done at once.  She told me they said no.

But when we ended up at the testing building, it turned out he did get the crucial MRI after all.  I asked Angel what happened, and she said we could thank the woman in blue who pushed him over.  I asked more about her life–what education do those hospital workers have?

Angel said a recruiting company goes to the poor rural areas and finds workers and offers them a job in the city and several weeks of training.  Lucky me the day this woman decided to say yes.  She probably sends her salary–and maybe her kids–back home, Angel told me.  She’s near the bottom of the hospital hierarchy.  But she had the right touch.

My China speaking turned into WAY more adventure than I usually have when I visit international schools (always adventures already), and a lot of it was hard, hard, hard.

But gifts poked up everywhere, too.

And people were there to hold my hand.

On the gray, grouchy days, may we all have such tender care.

May the angels show up to translate and put a cool hand on a hot brow.

When we’re sitting slumped in our chairs, numb and sad, may we see the lion, at least on some days, lie down with the lamb.

4 thoughts on “Finding peace in the middle of fizzledom”

  1. Oh, my God, Jane, how frightening for you, at the hospital! I hate to even think about how you must have felt. So glad you are both back safe and sound.

  2. Thanks, Julie. It was scary and hard, but the elementary librarian had grown up overseas and taught overseas most of her adult life, and she and her husband were calm and kind and practical and it felt SO good to have their support.

  3. Jane, you are intrepid. So glad that Leonard is doing well and you’re both home. Well, I think you’re home. Here’s to a vacation, and floating in a nice, big boat.


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