It's Sunday morning in the hospital and Eddie is looking tremendously better. That is indeed a blessing. Eddie was hospitalized several days ago with pneumonia -- not something a young man with significant special needs wants added to his issues. Eddie, however, is the perfect patient, somehow understanding and fulfilling the obligation to be quiet and allow his body to recover. And, in being the perfect patient, he endears himself to all who see him.
(You might recall several months ago when I began this blog, I posted about another Eddie hospitalization. It seems God recognizes my need to be encouraged during Eddie's hospital stays. And, so this stay was no different.)
Yesterday, I posted in Will They Eat This? # 12 the joy of hospitality. This morning after I ordered Eddie's and my breakfasts (wish I had my camera for another installment of Will They Eat This? -- but, sparing you the gruesome photos, I'll tell you the stats and the verdict right now -- stats: we ate it with gratitude only because we had to; verdict -- as a prayer: Please, Lord, keep us healthy and help them to improve upon institutional food! We'd rather not eat this again!) , I had a chance to receive hospitality in ways that surprised me. Hmmm...hospital hospitality -- it's not an oxymoron?
I was greeted by the technician, a lovely woman named Joanna, who, with a smile and personality that would cheer even the sickest of patients, brought sunshine into the otherwise nondescript and dimly lit room. Eddie awoke with a smile, obviously feeling more like himself today than in previous days. Joanna couldn't love him enough, careful to speak sweetly and move him gently. It was so comforting to watch that confidence and tenderness. And, I'm sure that she offers a similar type of care to all of her patients. But, she saw something very special in my boy. I didn't have to tell her that he needed "special" treatment. It was certainly clear that to Joanna, being a nursing technician meant always providing care and comfort, not just taking care of the business of probing and charting.
I was in a good place after that experience for Eddie. I thought to myself that we would have a good day. Eddie and I would revel in being inspired by the love and hospitality brought to us by Joanna.
And, then our breakfasts arrived, delivered by yet another sweet member of the hospital staff. Her name I don't recall, it was Indian in origin, I believe. Although neither her ethnicity, nor her name is of any real importance here, her comments are what I won't soon forget. From outside the door, she greeted Eddie and said, "Hello, my boy!" It was nice, but certainly a odd thing for someone who delivers the meals to say. The other days we have been here the only words I can recall being said by the food staff were, "Room service. Can you confirm the paitent's name?" But, not this morning. Today, Eddie was more than a meal tray, more than just a patient -- he was a person. To this particular woman, he was a very special person. And, to me, she became one instantly.
As she continued to speak with me -- yes, confirming Eddie's name and meal request -- she said, "He is pure of heart -- so very close to God." Tears came to my eyes and I thought to myself, God is certainly making us feel very welcome here today, and we have done nothing besides be present in the moment.
It is often in the times when we are least able to control our circumstances that God sends those messengers to bolster our spirits. They bring hospitality and comfort. They live Hebrews 13:2 which reads:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.Not knowing who we are, but caring for us and welcoming us with love regardless is the sign of true hospitality. These wonderful women had nothing to offer to us but their kindness, the gift that God had given to them to share with others. It sparked in me a gratefulness that, on a morning when I easily could have succumbed to fatigue and grouchiness, I witnessed love for my son and for me that warmed my heart through and through. It was a message sent to inspire hope.
It's funny where you can meet hospitality if you care to look. I never would have thought this place "hospitable" before, but my mind had changed. This morning, it is not just a facility to treat the sick, it is a place where the most fragile and their families can receive shelter, food, clothing, care -- the corporal works of mercy can be seen lived out right here. That doesn't mean for a moment that I will lower my defenses in the appropriate care of my son during his hospitalization, but thanks be to God for these women who brought the love of Christ to us through their work. St. Josemaria Escriva writes in The Way this marvelous little quote:
A little act, done for Love, is worth so much! (#814)We were so blessed this morning by not one, but two, little acts, done for Love!