Friday, March 9: “The Stretcher and the Swan”


Apparently with no surprise,
To any happy flower,
The frost beheads it at its play,
In accidental power.
The blond assassin passes on.
The sun proceeds unmoved,
To measure off another day,
For an approving God.

–Emily Dickinson


“The Stretcher and the Swan”

I drove by an accident the other day. Emergency services people were putting a woman on a stretcher. They were tender, attentive, capable. She was being taken care of. Traffic was directed competently around the wreck. It would be cleaned up, hauled away. Taken care of. A fire truck was parked beside the ambulance, its chunky lights flashing. Standing by, just in case a fire happened. So they could take care of it. That was one well-taken-care-of situation.

I wanted to be on that stretcher. I wanted calm and capable people to take care of everything. It looked restful…I talked to a friend of mine who used to work in an emergency room and she said that what happens when you come in is that fast-moving people with big scissors cut off all your clothes. That didn’t sound restful at all. She suggested I pay for a day at a spa where helpful, calm people would fuss over me all day long. I’d rest, but no one would cut off my clothes with scissors. It would be cheaper than a hospital stay, and I could drive home afterward.

I know now that when I have a “stretcher day,” when being helpless looks good to me, I just need to rest. How did I get to be a grown-up and not know that I need to rest sometimes?

by Meg Barnhouse, minister, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Austin, Texas


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One response to “Friday, March 9: “The Stretcher and the Swan”

  1. Debra Boyd

    Got to love the Rev. Meg Barnhouse! We have a lot of good Rev. Meg’s in our Association. 😉


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