"A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, began to sink off into a deep sleep while Paul talked still longer. Overcome by sleep, he fell to the ground three floors below and was picked up dead. But Paul went down, and bending over him took him in his arms, and said, 'Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.' Then Paul went upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he continued to converse with them until dawn; then he left. Meanwhile they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted." - Acts 20:9-12
Between work and parenting and caring for a disabled husband, being the protagonist in my life story is sometimes tiring. "Ask for help," my friends tell me. I wonder how people do that. Usually asking for help just seems like one more thing to add to the long list.
Last week, I prepared to drive my husband to the emergency room after a negative reaction to a medication. For the chronically ill or disabled like Jeff, hospital visits aren't that unusual and the visit was really quite routine, in its way.
"Ask for help," I remembered. So, on the way out the door I did something I don't usually do. I sent a short text to three soul friends, asking them to pray. All day, our friends kept us company with notes of love, offers of food, even a real live visit. By the end of the day when Jeff was discharged with a plan in place, I noticed I felt less weary and more uplifted than I usually would after a day in the hospital.
Eutychus appears only once in the Bible story. It's amazing we even know his name, because he never speaks or acts in any meaningful way. All he does is fall asleep and then need help. And yet, his need mobilizes those who care for him to acts of healing, compassion and gratitude.
Eutychus, the protagonist of the story, didn't do anything but need his community, and that was enough. Maybe one day we will know that it is enough for us, too.
Dear God, help me ask for help. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.