Saturday, December 03, 2005

Cafeteria prayer

Sitting in a cafeteria affords a view of a range of people.

Sitting in a hospital cafeteria affords a view of a wide range of people. And there are all kinds of people here…

In a regular cafeteria or restaurant, most people are there because they want to be. A hospital cafeteria brings people together out of far different circumstances…

There are hospital employees who, on their lunch hours, or breaks, enjoy the respite from their stressful work with friends and associates. How do they do, what they do, day in and day out? As in any profession, some just have “jobs” but most are dedicated professionals - whether they are the maintenance people or the head doctors - they take their tasks seriously, and they deserve our prayers.

There are parents, whose small children have a toy of some sort or a coloring book to pass the time, and I have to wonder what “loved one” of theirs are they here for; a grandparent, a parent, or heaven forbid, a sibling? What will they remember about this in the years to come?

I see elderly people. Many of them look like they need to be patients themselves rather than visitors! How I hurt for them. How much sickness and death have they seen in their years?

There are those with trays full of food and those with a meager cornbread muffin and a carton of milk. Hospital food is expensive, you know… And there are many who dash in and out with carry-out boxes and a sense of urgency etched on their faces. I wonder how difficult it will be for them to even eat the food they’ve bought.

And then, there are those who, I figure, look much like myself; tired, haggard, with dark circles under their eyes from lack of sleep and too much worry.

After a while the food all begins to taste the same, and the choices, which at first seemed so plentiful, after several weeks just seem repetitive and bland.

But today, I am thankful for a “fill-in” that allows me a moment to sit here in the corner with my ice cream bar and enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet. (I’ll relegate the worry to the "back burner" for a while.)

And as I look around I realize, there are many, many, people in far greater need than I, and I lift them up and pray for the God of Grace to hear their prayers. And for those who can’t or won’t pray - well, I pray for them, too. And maybe for them especially, in this hospital cafeteria, when nobody really wants to be here…



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