All of what makes up a day
I have been working with and caring for people most of my adult life. That fact, by itself, isn’t such a big deal. What is worthy of pause and reflection, however, is that I’ve had the privilege of being employed in “paid” work, and, within unpaid settings of ministry among Quakers and non-Quakers alike in tandem for as many years as well. The two experiences mesh seamlessly together most of the time but every now and then something stops me in my tracks and reminds me clearly of All of What Makes Up a Day.
Last week was a case in point when I had to pull off the road at the end of the day to take a call. (I dislike driving and being on the phone, especially when I need to think and feel what’s going on at the other end of the line.) The call itself, actually, wasn’t out of the ordinary, but the way it fit into the day’s events, was. Let me explain:
The day began like any other, meeting first with an eight year-old child and his mother, and afterwards with just the boy. We talked about the hurts of life, about special people he had lost, feelings of loneliness, and making his way in the world.
We also explored the future. He wants (like so many boys these days) to be a firefighter, but maybe a shuttle pilot and live in a big city with tall buildings. He wants a motorcycle too, because his dad had one once, which then made him sad. But soon we talked about ice cream, wanting the snow to melt so he could play baseball, and the girl who keeps staring at him in school. Our session ended with a picture he made with red and black markers. I taped it on my “picture wall” and off he went into his world and back to school. Twenty minutes later the boy’s mom called and said that she left his next appointment card in my office. I gave her the date and time and we hung up.
Other appointments followed, including one with a sixteen year-old and her two-year old daughter. There were similar themes, hopes and fears and plans about the future, for the young mom and for her little girl as well.
The day ended, or so I thought, visiting a man who is two years shy of his one hundredth birthday. And in essence, we talked about hopes and fears, loneliness, losses, people we love and miss, and wishing the snow would melt so he could get outside more frequently. I read poetry to him from books he had selected from his bookcase. Afterwards, he showed me the signatures of famous authors who had autographed each volume just for him. I asked about old framed photos on his wall and tabletop. He explained each in careful detail which was difficult and “good’ to do. My elder friend, in his wheelchair, saw me to the door as I made my way down the ramp and to my car. I looked back, we waved, and I was off.
More than books
An hour later, on the side of the road taking a call…it was my elder friend’s caretaker, who then handed the phone to my older friend. He said, “What was the name of the book you told me about?”
“The Kabir Book,” I said. “And you’re going to bring that book on your next visit, right?”
“Right,” I replied. “Okay, thanks, see you then.” and my friend hung up.
For certain, my friend had other reasons for calling. I knew that, as I sat there , cars whizzing by for several minutes holding the day in awe, the spectrum of life from one end to the other with nothing to do but offer a prayer of gratitude for living and witnessing to, what’s in a day.
Text by Kevin Lee