Years ago, a sign hung in our ER: “If there’s a job to do – and you can do it – it’s yours.”
He leaves no lesson in charity untaught.
My partner Dr. Gary Parrish is an avowed Christian. He feels `the Wounded Hand upon his shoulder’ moreso than many who make high claims to piety. He is a holy man. I know this because he doesn’t seem so… and The Creator delights in the subtle.
Gary will ask his patients if they have enough money to afford the prescriptions he writes for them. If not, he takes out his checkbook. This is an outward sign of his inward grace. He does what he must in order to be what he must: spirit-led; and no one takes this assignment more seriously than he.
There’s a lot of talk today about how spoiled the young are. Well, my friend and colleague once met one little boy who didn’t suffer that problem.
Last December, Gary treated a four-year-old patient. Thin, dirty and poorly-clad, this youngster presented with a stomach injury and multiple lacerations, the result of a tricycle accident. It was nearly Christmas-time.
His parents were there; obviously poor; obviously doting on their son.
Gary sutured the boy in the big trauma room; got a CT scan of the abdomen. There weren’t any internal injuries. Gary told the parents to bring him back for a recheck in three days.
On the third day, as soon as he’d arrived at work, Gary reached for the phone and asked the registration desk: when the little boy returned, would they notify him immediately?
He watched as the three came down the hall, then beckoned to the youngster in a conspiratorial, `I’ve-got-a-secret-to-tell-you’ kind of gesture. The child came near him and Gary merely pointed. He pointed to the room where the child had lain not three days past, injured and afraid.
The large Trauma Room stood dark, except for an overhead surgical light beaming down on a stretcher stacked high and running over with Christmas presents which Gary had purchased for the little boy.
The youngster shrieked with joy and ran to the stretcher. Then, Gary says, a strange thing happened. The boy pushed himself back two steps from the stretcher and looked away. He looked down to the floor and then at Gary. In a voice that suggested he was asking too much, he whispered, “You think maybe I could pick out just one small one for me?”
Gary choked up, unable to speak. He told me, “In that instant, I knew there was no place in that little boy’s mind where he could possibly imagine that all those presents could be for him.”
Gary quickly expanded the little boy’s thinking as he and his parents left the ER with all the gifts they could carry, and then some.
Many things of this world turn on invisible hinges. This story suggests to me that the world I cannot see or touch is the most real world of all. The life of this youngster seems to be of a harsh design. Yet, the Creator has intentions for each separate soul.
Spiritually alert – or trying hard to be – you go through your day and suddenly the borders begin to haze; the lines dissolve. The reality around you blurs; becomes fluid. Suddenly you’re swept along and without warning, you pass through an unseen gate, and there you are… in a spiritual moment. It may be short or drawn long. Others, working around you, passing you, touching you, may not even realize what’s happening, for they are not in the same moment.
It’s said that the Creator’s in charge of the currents; but that we’re in charge of the strokes.
Gary chooses his strokes well. His response to what was before him moved him, I believe, closer to the center of all light. The knowing eye of the Creator misses nothing; not a sigh, not a single tear. What pulls at me the most about this tale is my notion that the visible deeds of our lives are worth little, if there is no inward striving to which they correspond.
Be that as it may, like the poster in the ER, somewhere, I believe, there’s a spiritual signpost which says: “If there’s a job to do – and you can do it – it’s yours.”
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