<Dec. 31/09>

I’ve been spending the day in the Emergency ward of a major downtown Toronto hospital.

I’ve often reflected in hospitals, or when my children were really sick, that the world seems to shrink to the size of a room when a loved one is really ill.

And so it is today.

But I’ve been musing a bit too on how good it makes us feel – as human beings – when we can be of help to our fellow human beings.

I’ve felt helpful a few times today – & that sure makes me feel cheerier than when I feel as though I am not being useful, or when my efforts seem to go unnoticed.

I’m not able to help the person I’m here with too much right now, but I assume my presence is a bit of a comfort, at least (it’s not much fun being alone when we’re feeling really lousy, is it?).

When I went to the lobby to take a coffee break & make a phone call, I wound up feeling kind of cruddy. The Toronto newspaper that likes to specialize in lots of lurid bad news stories (no need to name it; everyone in this city knows the one I mean) is cheerfully dispensing its usual allotment of murder & mayhem.

The book I’m reading at the moment (also to remain unnamed) isn’t helping much either. Ozone depletion, global warming…lots of bad news there, too.

But on my way back to the Emerg, I saw & smiled at an utterly adorable little girl, then held a door open (with a cheerful smile) for a bunch of people who seemed to appreciate my small but obviously well-meant gesture – & began to feel “human” again.

As though I am of use – even if in ever-so-small ways.

I’ve long suspected we human beings are at our very best – & our happiest – when we are helping others.

And for sure, there have got to be about 6 zillion ways on this planet in which any & all of us can be of help!


P.S. Anne Lamott said in her delightful book Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith (quoting her minister), “…the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. You sit with people,” she said, “You bring them juice and graham crackers.” Therein lies just about a whole life philosophy, hmmm?