Sometimes our workdays run very late. Lately, more than sometimes. But every now and again, during those late cases, we get to see something that makes the whole day worth it.
A couple weeks ago, a coworker and i went to pick up a patient for a procedure. It was way after hours, and the poor woman was just so relieved to finally be getting it over with. As we are unhooking her from all her bells and whistles, she tells us that she can’t wait to get back. She hasn’t eaten in two days, and a friend brought her some chicken from her favorite place so that she could have something really yummy after her procedure. Then she looks around. There are a few of her kids in there. Well, i call them kids, but they were all adults. And she begins to panic.
“Don’t you go eatin’ my chickin’! That’s MY chickin’! I haven’t eaten in two days, and i really want that chickin’ bad! Please don’t mess with it!” Her kids all agree that they won’t touch it. She doesn’t seem convinced and has me bring her the box so she can count out the pieces. “I got three pieces of chickin’ in here. Three. I counted. (She shows me.) See? I have proof. Now that chickin’ better be here when i get back! Don’t you go eatin’ my chickin’!”
“Yes, Momma, ” they respond while rolling their eyes.
We wheel her away, her supper reboxed and placed on the counter for her return. Thru the hallway, she continues to go on about her chickin’. She can’t wait. She’s been so hungry. And that’s her favorite chickin’. We get her into the procedure suite, get to working, and she is still talking. She is gonna have some chickin’! This whole wait to get this pacemaker thing is worth it because, as a prize, she gets her chickin’ after! She LOVES that chickin’! It’s her favorite! And it smelled so good when her friend brought it! Oh, there ain’t nothin’ better than some good fried chickin’ when you really hungry!
I am not exaggerating. This woman was truly in rapture about this chicken.
After, when we are wheeling her back to her room, she is getting really excited. Like, six-year-old-on-her-birthday excited. She can almost taste that chickin’! Mmmmm, all the greasy-crunchy skin! It’s gonna taste so good after being starved for two days! I can’t wait to get my hands on that chickin’! I’ve been lookin’ forward to this so much! MMmmmm mmmmm! It’s gonna taste so good!
You see what is coming, don’t you?
We barely get her hooked back up to the tentacles of her room before she asks if she can have her chicken. She knows she can’t have it quite yet, but she just wants to smell it. Her mouth is watering. I am smiling as i go to grab her pot of extra-crispy gold… But all i find is an empty box in the trash and her children are gone. At first, she thought we were kidding, but when the truth set in, the look on her face… Well… I don’t think there is a word for it. Some combination of anger, shock, disgust, sadness – all wrapped up in that iron-weight foil that only real disappointment can bring. I want to cry at first, but then anger builds. What kind of kids are these? What kind of people are these? The anger starts burning. By the time i am at the nurses’ station giving report, i am royally pissed. I want to find those kids and kick their selfish little asses.
While i am infused with venom, my coworker is infused with Spirit. As he passes me talking to the nurse, he gives me the sign that he’ll be back in a couple minutes. While i rail on about the actions of those rotten P.O.S.s who should know better than to do that to their momma, my coworker is downstairs in the hospital food court buying her some more chicken. Without pomp. Without circumstance. Without flash or banner. He just goes and does it. And he brings joy and healing to that woman that no pacemaker, and certainly none of my burning fury, could ever bring. He just brings it to her and leaves.
Later that night, and many times since, i have dove into the ocean of what it meant.
I often get angry with the injustice, speaking my mind to friends and readers about how the world is going to hell, without even the benefit of a handbasket. The times when i let my anger pass thru, tho, and allowed a spirit of Love and Humanity take over my action are less common. Honestly, it didn’t occur to me to just go buy the woman some chicken. A simple act of kindness. Of Love. Of Humanity. The thought never crossed my mind. But it should have.
I can be the street preacher, waving my fist and gathering winds of discontent. Or i can be vessel thru which a spirit of love and generosity flows. I want to be less of the former and more of the latter. And the example i saw that night proves it. My coworker is a regular Joe. Just like myself. Just like most of us. Not a wealthy benefactor. Not a martyr. Not a saint. Just a guy who allowed his soul to be a conduit between all that is good and all that is not. My instinct was to get angry. His instinct was to bring Love. In the form of chicken.
Angels in Joes’ clothing. That’s what they are. These people who have already found it. Who put it to use. Many spout the words of their faith. The rules. The expectations. But it is these angels who have the bigger impact. Because their actions transcend any specific religion. They represent the tenets of Humanity and Love.
I am not a church goer. But i am a person of daily prayer and meditation. To God/Goddess/Universe. To the spirit of all things good and loving. To the one Saint Francis beseeches in his quest to become a better person. Perhaps it’s time i revisited that prayer. It is the sentiment of that prayer that i am lacking. Needing. Wanting. No, i’m not a totally selfish woman. I do good for other people. But not enough. So many are suffering. And while it’s true that i can’t singlehandedly bring about world peace or end world hunger or vanquish evil; i can keep my eyes open for opportunities to be that conduit. I can spend less time preaching and more time doing. I can make a difference. I can buy some chickin’.