Driving through traffic on the way home today, I began to retreat to that special space inside my soul. My quiet, silent space. It is sometimes a space for thoughts or thinking. These days, it is often a still and deeply tranquil place, my room for rest after a long day at the clinic.
I had just come from a patient recently diagnosed with a bleeding stomach cancer. It came as a surprise to the family. While they come to grips with the roller coaster ride of emotions, as families faced with a critical illness experience, I had to be the voice of calm and reason. Never mind my frayed nerves of being on the edge the entire day, tackling the problems of day-to-day living. It took all my concentration, and most of my energy reserves to be with them, sustaining a dialogue to confront their fears, available to answer their concerns.
Going home, I began slipping into my ‘nothing space.’
I noticed the security guard of a little-known restaurant in my peripheral vision. He was facing away from the door, behind the exhaust of an aircon unit. He appeared neat, but with the grayish white of the uniform that has seen better days. There was a graceful way with which he stood up from his tattered chair and squared his feet. He then raised a bowl of soup with both hands, above his head. He muttered a prayer, I think. Then he drank from his bowl, slowly, savoring each swallow.
He placed the bowl beneath the aircon unit, then picked up a plateful of rice. He began eating with his hands, in the dark, with the heat of the aircon blowing across his food, and the sounds of traffic all around.
The traffic light changed and I had to move. But this vision shifted something inside me.
He may be barely making ends meet at this time of his life. But he had a job. One that provides security for him as he secures others. And he has time to be thankful for what he has. I wished that his employer would afford him the dignity of a table for his meal. I offered an earnest prayer that he see better days. And I thanked him for the gentle reminder to be grateful for who I am, what I have, surrounded by people who love me.
How often have we, who enjoy much more, been thankful?