Sunday, June 6, 2010

A very humble thank you I'll never forget.

When I worked in California in the Emergency Department of a large Hospital there was a day when something happened that has stayed with me. A man and his wife were brought to the ER following a car accident having spent the night trapped inside their car in a large trench off to the side of the road far away from the city. Both had insulin related health problems which made things all the worse. The paramedics brought them in via the ambulance, they were covered in mud, blood and who knows what else.  For whatever reason and personal physical limitations they hadn't been able to get out of their car, or get help. A passerby the next day called for the ambulance.  So the couple had spent a very cold, lonely, and uncomfortable night in a faraway ditch, unsure if or when they would be found. Or if medication could be received in time. There was a feeling of respect in the room as the situation was prepared for by those getting details over the radio.

There they were in the emergency room, nurses and doctors, all attending to this exhausted couple.  I was an EMT at the time.  At one point I sat there washing off the husbands mud covered face with a warm washrag, he looked up at the group in tears and said thank you. No one was mad at him, no one discounted the experience they had gone through. No one chastised him for poor health choices which become clear as medical assessments continued, no one criticized his mistakes, and perhaps lack of judgment in driving the night before. No one cared whether or not he or she could pay for the services. We all felt love and compassion and were glad to serve. It brought out the best in everyone.

Here was a humble man, with little dignity left, clothes torn and soiled, physically limited and emotionally worn out. He could do little for himself other than talk.  His thank you was unforgettable. After a few minutes he and his wife who was in a nearby bed were able to laugh at their situation.  The nurses and doctors all respectfully let them find comfort in a little humor and they occasionally joined in where it was appropriate.  

Not all of us are ever going to be in such a circumstance. But how good it is when given the opportunity to serve, to do so regardless of what brought a person to their current situation of need. To serve without judgment, evaluation of merit, or criticism produces joy and peace.  

I believe that is how Christ approaches service, and how he asks us to serve and love.
It is not always easy, but Love never fails.  It's not required to evaluate someone's merit in order to offer service or love them.

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