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Coming Back To Life

Bruce Thielemann writes…

This is a special anniversary for me. Seven years ago today, at this very hour, I was on the operating table in the Presbyterian Hospital, and they were cutting their way into my heart. That operation was a lot longer then than it is now, and it took quite a longer time to come out of the anesthesia because they gave you so much more of it.

I can remember the process of coming to consciousness. At first, I was aware of my existence only by my thoughts. That is, I had no sensory data on which to depend. I could not hear or see or smell or taste or touch. Yet I could think. Descartes says that's enough–“I think, therefore I am.” It seemed true to me at that moment.

And then hearing came. The first thing that I heard was a strange beeping, which I later identified to be a heart monitor recording the beating of my own heart muscle. The next thing I heard was the sound of singing. It was the sound of a Christmas carol, and it was being sung softly and far away. As I listened, it got closer and closer. They stopped the carol and they began to sing a song written by a good friend of mine, Jester Hairston, a song called “Amen,” which he wrote for a film called Lilies of the Field. And even though I had a great tube going into my mouth (for the machine was doing my breathing for me), I began to try to form clumsily with my lips the words of that song, “Amen, Amen.”

Then I opened my eyes, and there above me was a great, smiling black face. And a woman said to me, “Love, you're singing with us. And Jesus is born. Amen!” And she bent down and kissed me. It was one of those moments that touched the very center of me.

— Bruce Thielemann, “Glory to God in the Lowest,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 75.

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