The Unplanned Act
I find hospitals unsettling. The same goes for doctors, nurses and the antiseptic smell that pervades the corridors. Places, people and smells to avoid if at all possible.
But there we were last Friday, four of us sitting in the hospital office of my friend John. We four comprise the Advisory Board of Mother Earth, an organic farm that supplies food exclusively to local food banks, and we had come together to discuss plans for the growing season. As the farm manager, Carrie, was telling us about the educational program she is developing with administrators of a local women’s prison, we suddenly heard a music box-like arrangement of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” come over the hospital’s intercom system. Startled, Carrie fell silent while a small smile began to form on John’s face.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, Carrie, but you’ll hear that song every time a baby is born at the hospital.” John’s eyes shone with tears as he said, “ Let me tell you a story…
About a year ago we had an elderly patient in our cancer ward. She was dying. One day a nurse was in the room when the song came over the system. The woman asked about the music. The nurse told her that the song was played whenever a baby was born in the hospital. The woman then asked the nurse to take some of the flowers in her room to the new mother. The nurse said she would be happy to and after finishing her tasks, did.
The next morning, the nurse returned to the dying woman’s room and told her the new mother was a sixteen- year – old girl, abandoned by her family and the baby’s father, and that the flowers had cheered her up. The nurse also said that the young lady had a healthy baby girl.
The nurse mentioned that the girl had asked the name of her flower benefactor, but, of course, given hospital rules, the nurse could not provide it. The elderly woman said that she didn’t want to violate hospital policy, but, if it wasn’t a bother, she would like the girl to know her name.
The following day the nurse returned on her rounds and explained that she had visited the girl and told her the woman’s name. After hearing it, the young mother named her baby after the ‘flower lady’ who had, without knowing the circumstances, thought a new life worth acknowledging.
With tears in her eyes, the old woman smiled. ‘Now I can die,’ she said. And did.”
This I Believe: In the unplanned act of kindness, we find the clearest glimpse of God.