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Rabbi Lyon's Blog - 12_12_2014
12/12/2014 11:30 AM Posted by:

From the Desk of Rabbi David Lyon
December 12, 2014

 

For three days, I visited Methodist hospital this week to see a family member. Parking in garage #1, making my way through the large lobby, waiting for the elevators in Dunn Tower, and walking around to the room on the 8th floor, all became part of a familiar journey. Thankfully, it ended on schedule and I won’t have to return to visit again until professional duties call me there. Ordinarily, I’m not there long enough to take note of more than my hospital list and the members of the congregation I come to see; but, this time was different.

                Perhaps it was the general fatigue I felt or the haggard look I shared with fellow travelers up and down the elevator, but there was a palpable kinship between us. One morning on my way up to the 8th floor, I was the only one waiting for the elevator without something in his hands. I patiently held the elevator doors opened, asked for everyone’s numbers, and punched them in one at a time for those whose hands held trays laden with breakfast, drinks, flowers, and what-not. One person said, “Aren’t we lucky you’re here to push the buttons.” As each floor was reached, the commuters remarked to all of us, “Have a blessed day” or “Be well now.” When my floor was reached, I exited with kind regards and gratitude.

                Later that day, when I felt like an afternoon cup of coffee, I headed down to the Starbucks kiosk. Whoever thought of installing a Starbucks in Methodist hospital’s lobby deserves a medal. The young lady who took my order was kinder than any barista I’ve ever met at a Starbucks store. Her head-band with Santas and reindeers standing at attention on it didn’t even look ridiculous; it reflected the genuine joy she served up with her drinks and scones. Coffee ready, I returned to the elevators. Fellow guests and hospital employees kindly filled the cars, called out numbers, made small talk that didn’t sound small, and exited on their way with warm good wishes.

                Ironically, there were no signs anywhere in the hospital that urged anyone to be kind, to hold the elevator doors, or to wish each other well. The only posted signs pointed newcomers in the right direction and where to find more information. What caused perfect strangers with worry and concern on their minds for loved ones in the hospital to extend extra kindness and compassion? I don’t think I’ve ever experienced the same graciousness in a shopping mall, a professional building, or even an amusement park.

                Such kinship must grow out of an unspoken but shared understanding of what it means to be concerned for one in the hospital. Minor or major, the circumstances that require a hospital stay for one night or many find us in a shared place where we confront how precious and fragile life can be, all at once.

                Life is precious. Each sign of recovery and renewed strength provides glimpses into the wonders of the body and how it can be prompted to heal. The combination of nutrition, medicine, and hope draws on resources we should never take for granted.

                Life is also fragile. Once each day, we heard the intercom throughout the hospital announce a “Code Blue” alarm. Somewhere in the hospital, doctors and nurses scrambled to save a life, and loved ones grew anxious while they waited for news. We never knew the outcome.

                Returning home is always the greatest joy and reason to feel blessed. Healing continues but so do compassion, kindness and goodness. There are many more places beyond the elevator lobby in the hospital where real people like you and me still hurt, feel lonely, and seek kinship. Compassion doesn’t wait for the holiday season; it waits for us. As the holiday season arrives, enter it with good wishes, helpful hands, and kind words. Who knows, perhaps we might even see a glimpse of a healed world.



You may contact Rabbi David Lyon here.


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