Who are you looking for?

Virginia Ryan

Virginia Ryan

Where is God in the mess and madness of my family, our Church and the world? There are many times when I’ve stood beside the tomb weeping; looking for God, writes Virginia Ryan.

BY Virginia Ryan*

“Meanwhile Mary stood weeping outside the tomb.” (John 20:11)

Where is God in the mess and madness of my family, our Church and the world? There are many times when I’ve stood beside the tomb weeping; looking for God.

Last Thursday morning I had a skin specialist appointment. I was running late. The air conditioning in the car was broken and I’d forgotten to recharge my mobile.

When I finally arrived the doctor’s consulting room was full of middle aged men and women. The cost of Irish heritage, I thought. Within minutes an animated Chinese family arrived and had to be escorted to the back verandah because there was no room. I’m going to be late all day. Three Women’s Weekly later I was ushered in.

“Come in Virginia, sit down. Good to see you.”

“Thanks. You’re very busy Dr Lam,” I announced. I’ve a knack of stating the obvious.

“Yes, but I’ve got a question for you.” Professor Chris Lam is a Professor of Dermatology; he had a question for me? “Tell me, who should pay for the medical expenses of refugees?”

I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if he really wanted my opinion or wanted to tell me what I should be thinking. In truth, I just wanted to be on my way.

I blurted out: “No one leaves their family, their country and their culture and flees to another country with absolutely nothing if there is another option. It’s a last resort. They risk everything. Surely we can cover their medical expenses if they’re sick.”

He looked up and over his rather thick-lensed glasses.

“That’s not the opinion of my medical colleagues. They are lobbying both sides of politics to ensure they get paid for any medical services provided. I’m astounded at how narrow and insular they’ve become. I migrated to this country 40 years ago. I couldn’t even speak English. I was educated at Randwick Boys High and studied medicine at UNSW. I wouldn’t be a doctor or professor if it hadn’t been for the generosity of the Australian people.”

We had a lively conversation about what it means to have a vocation and give back. He was convinced that it was a privilege to serve those in need. I was surprised. He drove a large black BMW, wore a fine Longine watch and travelled extensively. Appearances can be deceptive.

The waiting room was full.

Eventually he picked up his large magnifying mirror and scanned my skin with his intense, wise eyes, like Clark Kent using his x-ray vision. All was fine. I believed him.

I jumped in the car. It was boiling hot. I was late. The mobile didn’t work.

All was well.

Mary of Magdala was weeping because she couldn’t find the Lord. She was convinced he’d been stolen. She was prepared to collect him wherever he was. Even when she caught sight of him she couldn’t recognise him. She was looking very hard but she was hot and bothered and stressed.

“Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’” She recognised him and replied, “Rabbouni!” (meaning teacher). (John 20:16)

Be still. Open your eyes, dry your tears and put on your glasses. The teacher comes in many disguises: the gardener, the doctor, the husband, the child, the work colleague. He’s everywhere.

“Mary of Magdala went to the disciples. ‘I have seen the Lord!’” (John 20:18)

* Virginia Ryan has been an educator for 30 years. She is a member of the Broken Bay Diocese Catholic School Office Mission Team where she designs and delivers faith formation programs for school leadership teams, whole school staff and parents. She is a Member of Good Samaritan Education and a founding member of The Broken Bay Institute.

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The Good Oil, March 19, 2013. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

3 Responses to “Who are you looking for?”

  1. moconnor says:

    Thank you for this stirring account of your experience. What a difference it makes to look at our world with compassion. The Lord is lurking somewhere.
    We just need the eyes to see him. Marie sgs

  2. Catherine Slattery says:

    Ah Virginia, we so often need the ‘obvious’ to be re-stated so that we hear with new ears!
    Thanks Catherine

  3. mary leask says:

    thank you Virginia – I have had many days like the one you have described and quite a few confronting conversations with the professionals who like your doctor arrived and were treated much better than our present system for refugees – even my parents and family ( who were migrants not refugees) while they were not given much by way of financial support, at least they were not imprisoned. what a difference a word makes – migrant / refugee who would have thought!

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