Faith on the front page

fp front 01Usually the media only write about religious issues when those issues intersect with politics. So I was pleasantly surprised to read Susan Levine’s fantastic story about the role that faith plays in the lives of an area Christian couple. I was even more surprised that it ran on the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post. Here’s how it begins:

Denny and Diana Glusko start and end their day with prayer. Despite the wrenching transformation of their lives, that much has never changed.

He bends low over his wife’s bed, her hand sometimes clasped in his, as both give thanks to God. Denny prays that Diana will breathe free of pain. For himself, he prays for patience. Just beyond the door are the usual disruptions of a hospital unit — the noise, the glare. But inside Room 2-007, it is different.

“Yours is the honor and the glory,” Denny says. Diana whispers, “Amen.”

Never have they questioned whether God has a purpose for this journey, which started one afternoon last May when their car veered across a rural road in Fauquier County, slammed into a ditch and flipped. He was driving when a cup of coffee diverted his attention and Diana gasped, “Oh, Denny!” He braced himself with the steering wheel and crawled out his shattered window without a scratch. She had nothing to grab for protection. Neither she nor Denny was wearing a seat belt.

The impact broke Diana’s second cervical vertebra, paralyzing her from the neck down.

In the days that followed, both asked God to forgive them for their disobedience of the law. Then they asked for guidance and strength for whatever lay ahead. Three seasons have passed, and Diana still is not home. Yet instead of despair, they talk of miracles — and faith.

Levine penned a lengthy profile of the couple and gives readers a very intimate look — not only at how each member of this couple is shaped by their faith, but how their marriage and relationship to the larger world is as well:

Diana’s primary hospital physician, Manisha Singal, worries about the immense challenges looming after she leaves the hospital. She also marvels, saying she has never seen such unconditional love and support between two people. She has watched it renew “a sense of possibilities” in the hospital staff. Nurses and others have joined in prayer in that room, and Denny has ministered to families and patients elsewhere on the floor. “He’s become our local pastor,” Singal says.

The final amen every night is Denny and Diana’s alone — after he has fed her the last half-dozen or so pills, smoothed her sheets, brushed her hair, spun shut the blinds. After they’ve kissed. He climbs into her wheelchair, parked close to the bed and reclined to its maximum angle. He reaches for the light, pulls his John 3:16 baseball cap over his eyes, and both wait for the blessing of sleep.

Growing up with a father who is a pastor, I spent a great deal of time accompanying him on hospital visits. I can’t recall a story of a Christian family going through a traumatic medical ordeal and recovery that rang as true as this one.

Levine was blessed to have found such worthy subjects for a profile but she clearly has an eye for the details that really make the words leap off the page. I’m also curious how she found this story and how much time she spent with the family working on it.

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  • Jerry

    These kinds of stories are worthwhile reading.

    There’s another group of stories recently that I think should be highlighted. I had suggested stories about perinatal hospices to the GetReligion contributors but it does not look like they’ll cover it.

    So I hope I can be forgiven for hijacking this topic to mention those beautiful institutions and to suggest that people look for stories covering them. There are obvious religious “ghosts” in some of the stories I’ve seen.

    Some of the stories are views into how parents deal with such situations. Some, such as the NYTimes story mention how the abortion issue plays into private funding for such institutions. Others present pure stories about people who choose to follow that path.

  • Chris Bolinger

    Excellent story. Well written and moving.

    One small quibble: For whatever reason, Denny calls Easter “Resurrection Sunday” instead of “Easter”, and the Post editor refuses to capitalize the “R”.

    Otherwise, a terrific read. Kudos to Levine for writing it and to the Post for running it.

  • Eli

    Beautiful story Mollie. Thanks for highlighting it and bringing it to our attention. Favorite part was:

    She was essentially who she is today. Quiet and gentle, although capable of quips that make her blue eyes flash. During the interminable expanse last year when Diana was silenced, incapable of breathing without the whoosh of a ventilator, her eyes became her sole means of communication. They conveyed everything from confusion to relief. But never a complaint, says Denny, who has yet to spend a night away from the woman he variously calls mom, grandma, my bride, DeeDee or, in their most anguished moments, “my poor child.”