There is a warning sign taped outside the door, a universal symbol to stop, to take caution. The sign shouts BEWARE and directs your eyes toward the plastic bins drilled into the concrete wall. These bins offer you a new set of clothes if you still choose to come in. You find a filmy yellow gown with ties too short, a protective mask and a pair of bright blue plastic gloves. These clothes will provide a barrier between you and me, an effective shield between my germs and yours. You stop and stare and say a prayer. Pushing hard on the heavy door that separates us, you enter. Your eyes see the bare walls crudely decorated with crooked hooks holding tangled tubes and masks and dials, neatly labeled. The black straight back chair invites you to sit and stay, but not for long.

The room is cold as the fan runs fast, working double duty through the day to circulate the cool air while it muffles the sounds from without and the sounds from within. The cold air threatens to freeze my small frame and I shiver before I insulate myself with a thin flannel blanket, warmed by a heating station down the hall. The cold air is no match for the thoughts twisting through my mind like frost etchings on the windows of my heart. The frost taunts: you are alone.

This is a lonely room.

But don’t be afraid. In a different time and a different place, I’ve been here before. This is my room.

Open your eyes and see what I see. This room is a refuge, a place of rest. It is here that my heart sings for joy in the shadow of His wings. The walls are covered with feathers, the soft protection of His shelter. I am safe.

Open your ears to hear what I hear. God is near. God is here. Listen with me to the echoes of Spirit-whispered secrets. I know you. I delight in you. I love you.

So come inside my room where honest fears mingle with holy prayers and truth, double edged like a sword, triumphs. We will laugh and cry and tell stories while we sit and wait for the unknown. Come in and see with Spirit eyes, I am alone, but not alone.

Holy Father, Gentle Jesus, Whispering Spirit,
As I cross over the threshold from the stillness of the sacred into the chaos of the ordinary, give me eyes that see visions of Your goodness and ears that hear the voice of Your mercy following me all the days of my life. Amen.