I had just arrived at the hospital where I'm a volunteer chaplain. I logged in at the computer in the volunteer office and walked across the lobby to get the mail. I'm always on the lookout for those who need assistance - I watch for people who seem lost or upset or nervous.
That Tuesday morning, I saw a woman sitting in one of the comfortable chairs in the atrium surrounded by a pool of spilled Pepsi on the floor.
As I went over to greet her, she said, "I must have fallen asleep and knocked my Pepsi over."
"I'll get someone to clean up." I went to the information desk to request someone from housekeeping to come. Meanwhile, I got one of those bright, yellow, plastic signs that I could set near the spill to warn people to be careful.
"What kind of Pepsi do you drink?" I asked, waiting with her. She showed me the empty bottle.
"I'll be right back." I went to the cafeteria, where I purchased two bottles of the same kind of Pepsi she spilled.
Realizing I needed to check in at the chaplain's office, I handed her the bags with the two bottles of Pepsi and went on my way carrying with me her face of gratitude.
Did I Give Enough?
Reflecting later that afternoon, I remembered two challenges from a sermon I heard two days prior to my encounter with the woman.
"God, help me recognize you in this moment."
"God, if you can use me today, help me pay attention."
I gave myself fifty percent on my response to this woman, wondering why I didn't take an extra few minutes to ask why she was at the hospital or how she was doing, especially since she had fallen asleep in the chair.
The following Tuesday, I walked past where she sat with Pepsi all over the floor and seat cushion and asked myself why I didn't interact with her further.
That spot is a reminder for me to take the extra few minutes to be present to all of God's children and inquire about their circumstances wherever I am. There was nothing urgent at the chaplain's office that would have prevented a few more minutes with this woman. People need one hundred percent of me when I am there to serve, not fifty percent as I offered.
Questions for Reflection
1. Who do you see each day? Be present to those you encounter wherever you go. Ask God to open love and compassion in your heart to extend to other.
2. Take time to care for those you see or those you know by listening to their concerns or celebrating their joys.
3. Record these moments so you can remember how God has used you.
Prayer: God, we are surrounded by your people wherever we go. Help me pay attention, to be present and care for those I see. Help me take a few minutes from my personal agenda to listen for those who may need a kind and compassionate ear, for my heart's desire is to love others in your name. Amen.