I spend a fair amount of time in hospitals. As a pastor I visit people in all sorts of circumstances. Sometimes I’m sitting with my own family. On one memorable occasion I was the patient waiting for biopsy results, being prepped for surgery and then the process of recovery.
Being in a hospital provides ample time for waiting. We sit with our emotions or the emotions of others. Often we feel vulnerable, placing our well-being or the well-being of a loved one, in the hands of another. We wait, we pray, we hope.
I’m always mindful that each person has their own story….patients, family members and staff. A hospital is a container for the emotions that make up the human condition: Anxiety, vulnerability, despair, grief, kindness, hope, healing.
In the intensity of this setting there is no such thing as a ‘small act of kindness’.
Recently I sat in a large hospital reception area sipping a cup of coffee. To the side was a man seated at a piano. As people waited for their appointment or for a loved one, he quietly played a variety of jazz and standards, making each piece his own. An accomplished pianist his music was designed to help us relax.
One woman with tears released a long sigh. A man holding a sleeping child closed his eyes and nodded his head to the music. A few children held hands and danced.
Around his neck was a lanyard which read’ volunteer’. Thanking him for his kindness I asked how often he played at the hospital, he responded: ‘Once a week for a few hours. I retired a few years ago from teaching and playing music allows me to give something back. I know from experience that hospitals can be a stressful place. If my music can make things a little easier, why not?’
We know, there is no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every expression, particularly in the heightened setting of a hospital, is a blessing, a gift, a balm.
Thank you to the piano man. Thanks to each of you for the kindness you show.