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A letter from the trenches, from an infectious disease doctor in Milan

DOCTOR, MASK,
HQuality | Shutterstock
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Living and working in the pain, drama, and chaos of pandemic hot spots, our healthcare workers have some of the most profound spiritual insights for us right now.

No other group is closer right now to the veil that separates the visible world from the invisible one, the valley of the shadow of death, than healthcare workers. As they care for and comfort patients suffering from COVID-19 around the world, they’re not only giving us the gift of their sacrifices and service, but in some cases, some powerful spiritual reflections, too.

Dr. Amedeo Capetti, an infectious diseases expert and consultant to the WHO, penned such a reflection in the Italian newspaper Il Foglio, on March 18, 2020, which was republished recently in Communion & Liberation’s  newsletter. Capetti, a physician of the First Department of Infectious Diseases of the Luigi Sacco Hospital in Milan, shared his thoughts on his way to a recent shift in the hospital.

A couple of excerpts:

In fact, what I am living—but I believe this to be an experience shared by many others—is a phenomenon that we physicians often see in those who have survived a brush with death: the experience of opening your eyes and realizing that nothing can any longer be taken for granted. It is the recognition that everything is a gift: waking up in the morning, greeting your loved ones, and even all the little moments of daily life, that for some are merely time to be filled, but for others, like me, have unexpectedly become even more compelling than before.

The grace of this new self-awareness radically transforms what we do, generating amazement, friendship. We look at each other and say: today we cannot hug each other, but a smile says much more than what a hug used to say. This awareness allows us to participate in the drama of our patients. It is no coincidence that my colleagues ask me to pray not only for their loved ones, but also for their patients, something that has never happened before. And this, too, is contagious. Yesterday a woman from Crema phoned me to get news about her grandmother who is hospitalized and in serious conditions at the Sacco. She told me of her other grandmother, who died of Covid, and of her mother, who is in intensive care in Crema, and then she said, “You see, Doctor, at the beginning I was praying, but now I’ve stopped.” I answered, “I understand, ma’am. Do not worry. I will be the one praying for her.” When she heard this, she was moved and said, “No, Doctor, if you are going to pray, I’ll do it as well. Let’s pray together for my mother.”

 

Read Dr. Capetti’s entire “Letter from the Trenches” here.
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