Monday, October 19, 2015

Needed Friendship

So, Frank and I are making new friends today.  In a location where we’d rather not be.  But a place where friends are desperately needed and greatly appreciated, just the same.

He’s having a rather lengthy medical test done which requires lots of waiting.  We arrived well before dawn but will still be sitting here through lunch we've been told.  As we sit patiently in the waiting area, people come and go. 

We’re hapless victims forced to listen to one of those constantly cycling news programs on the television in the corner.  (I honestly think I could quote some of the reports now.)

But the people-watching opportunities are limitless!

Oddly, one of the first people we met was another pastor of our area.  She was here to pray with church members coming in for a similar test.  We chatted for a while; then she prayed and left.

We’ve become friends with the technician who was here when we first arrived.  He has taken special care to make sure Frank is well informed with every step.  The nurses and even the desk staff are smiling and offering polite conversation now. 

Because many people are already fleeing the colder weather up north, an abundance of different accents swirl around our ears.  The air conditioning in this part of the clinic has to stay nearly frigid because of the special equipment.  A stack of blankets waits for the inevitable cold patients experience. 

Varying ages, styles of dress, reading interests, reading implements and even dispositions.  It’s a “people-watching” smorgasbord. 

Some have family or friends waiting with them.  One gentleman is obviously sight and hearing impaired.  It’s quite clear that his attendant is being paid for his services.  Very little patience and certainly none of the tenderness or attentiveness a family member would offer.

An older couple keeps sneaking nervous glances at one another.  When they get caught, they smile reassuringly, pat hands lovingly,  then go back to their reading material. Their mutual concern for one another is touching.

Several older men are waiting alone.  I can’t help but wonder if they’re widowed.  Some have a practiced appearance of nonchalance.  But each one has responded quickly when their name has been called.  Anticipation can’t be camouflaged.

I’ve only spotted two ladies waiting alone.   Women tend to be creatures of community.

We’ve even moved to the step of exchanging names with two other patients.  “George” is a military veteran and well traveled.  “Teresa” has never lived outside this county.  Both interesting people.

The one over-riding element among all these people in the waiting area?  A palpable sense of tension.  

“Tests” create a universal condition – uncertainty.  If we already had answers we’d be on a different floor receiving treatment.  This waiting area is reserved for those of us with questions.  Lots of unanswered questions.

Sitting here – totally helpless to make changes or to make things move any faster – I’m aware that at our core, we human beings are all very much the same. 

Take away the masks we chose to wear.  Put us in drafty hospital gowns.  Ask us to lie on cold gurneys.  And suddenly, we crave comfort – reassuring touch, understanding looks, meaningful whispers – comfort.

Please note, the comfort needed in this place has nothing to do with finances, physical appearance or social status. Whispers are free and often fleeting but are absolutely priceless for a frightened heart.  Touches may come from an unattractive hand but the warmth provided is all the same.  A look that says, “I see you!” can steady even the most tremulous soul. 

George must have been nervous because he was very talkative.  It didn’t take many comment exchanges for us to get straight to the heart of things.  “I know some people don’t believe.  But I DO believe in God!”  George's voice wavered slightly.  He expected a response.

“So do I, George!  And more importantly, He believes in you!”  I whispered my encouragement.  George rubbed his nose nervously; pretty sure he swiped at a tear.

Just then, the technician called his name.  George bolted up as quickly as his eighty-year-old limbs would allow.  He looked back briefly and smiled.  That smile of gratitude made me glad I had listened so patiently. 

Of course, I came today for Frank.  But I think, just maybe, God used my presence in this uncertain place to create a needed friendship for George, too. 

Comfort is welcome in every corner of this world.  Feel free to share some today.