I stretch out under a crisp white sheet on a soft mattress, head sinking into the pillow. A student will do the procedure today. She applies the electrodes. One… two… three.
“Yay, they’re warm,” I say.
She cocks her head. “They are? Oh, they were sitting next to the machine.”
“You should store them there all the time.”
She smears some gel on a pink probe, and the supervising technician shuts off the light.
I roll over on my left side, and the student adjusts the machine so I can see. I watch the color Doppler radar images of my heart’s turbulence. It’s just like watching The Weather Channel. Yellow lightning flashes. I wonder where the still center is, where might I see compassion and love.
I see the valve open and close. First the whole image looks like a gospel singer swaying and clapping. Or maybe a music director. But then it looks like a monkey playing a piano.
“That’s the first time I’ve heard that,” laughs the student.
She moves the probe, circles around and presses kind of hard on my rib. I try not to wince. She measures and marks.
I doze off a couple of times and wake up when she says, “Take a deep breath and hold it. Now breathe. Now sniff. Now a small breath and hold it.” I hope she’s only had to ask me once.
She still has a year to go in school, but she seems quite competent. “I’ve got the heart down,” she says. “Now it’s on to the arteries and veins.”
I never did see stillness in the images. I never did see compassion. But I saw life. And it’s a miracle.
Maybe it was passion I saw in the singer and the director and the piano player.
I saw music in my heart.
Claire Burge writes about her life in her book Spin: Taking Your Creativity to the Nth Degree. She puddled me in her chapter titled, “Finding the Voices,” with her story about the maid and the mud cakes and the compassion of her little girl self. How she squeezed sweet chocolate words out of cracked earth, found a voice by listening to voices.
“What issues make your blood boil,” she asks?
Well, she doesn’t ask exactly like that, but that’s what she means.
I think of all the ways people use their voices to hurt other people–intentionally and unintentionally. Whether by back-biting or barking obscenities or name-calling. And just this morning someone posted on a Facebook friend’s wall that her teenage granddaughter should be shot for shooting raccoons.
Yesterday a carnival worker ripped the arm band off my oldest grand-daughter’s wrist because in her excitement she hopped off a ride before it had come to a complete stop. No warning.
I think of a baby baking in a hot car, of “a 4-year-old girl with extensive bruising to her face, back, arms and legs . . . scabs and lacerations on her body, as well as missing hair from her head,” cigarette burn scars on a Haitian orphan, and young girls forced to commit sexual acts.
I think of veterans denied timely care and drivers driving drunk.
I think of murdered Israeli teens and a Palestinian boy burned alive.
I think of those imprisoned and tortured and killed for their faith.
I think of political abuse and coverups and families broken by lies and infidelity and commitments taken lightly.
And my blood boils.
Maybe it was compassion I saw on that screen after all.
Inspired by “Finding the Voices.”
What makes YOUR blood boil?
In the stillness (and the turbulence),
In community with Lyli