The Whole World is Medicine
Somebody asks: “Where do you find yourself?”
Well, today it’s in the cafeteria of the Catholic hospital. It doesn’t matter which one. I’m here because the coffee is good enough and I can get a little writing done. Besides, I like to watch how other people approach their jobs. For instance, over there, those hospital caregivers sitting at that table, four of them, confabulating over coffee. I’m supposed to be writing something, but I have nothing to say. So I write down what they say.
Their talk is of co-workers and bosses. They complain about the charge nurse. They express dismay over a couple of colleagues who play with Tarot cards in the break room. They discuss what to do to on their day off, maybe go horseback riding or to the casino. Ordinary stuff. Before long, the conversation returns to the subject of the charge nurse. They do not like her. She makes the workplace miserable for them. She bosses them around. One of the caregivers, a young woman wearing ordinary scrubs, suddenly blossoms into profanity: “Things around here are so fucking fucked up!” “Yeah!” the rest chime in, “Yeah!” They all laugh.
Overhead, the cafeteria loudspeakers suddenly come to life. It is 8 a.m. Time for the broadcast of the hospital’s daily prayer. A soothing male voice speaks from above. Words of blessing descend through fluorescently lit cafeteria air down to the bright linoleum floor. The caregivers maintain a respectful silence.
“May you see with tender eyes
The wounds of those before you.
May you hear with well-tuned ears
The unspokenness of those whose voices are muted.
May you hold with gentle hands
The bodies and spirits of those you care for.
May you know that,
As you care for others,
God cares for you, sees you,
Holds you tenderly. . .”
After a long pause, the voice says “Amen.” Another long pause, then another “Amen.” And that’s it, prayer’s finished. Talk resumes among the caregivers as they stand up and collect their empty cups and head off to work.
Somebody cares for us all.