Staring at a fish tank can be mesmerizing and calming, but after an hour it's just boring.

Judah and I sat in the basement of Wilmer Eye Institute waiting for the doctor to give Judah his annual eye exam. With no magazines to read nor electronic device with which to play, we were left with the fish. Does anyone know why a fish would suck up stones from the bottom of the tank and then spit them out? Maybe he was as bored as we were?! Finally, we were called to an exam room. If you've not had the opportunity to be a patient at a teaching hospital such as Johns Hopkins (and I hope you have not), it's like a party in the room. You've got your technician or nurse who does all the work, the expert doctor, the one whose name is on your bill, and then a myriad of others, some residents, some interns, some fellows. The doctor could have his plumber in the room, and the patient would be none the wiser. After strange person #2 examined Judah, he asked, "Mom, how many doctors do I have to see before I go home?" We were lucky today. Only 3! Reading charts, eyes dilated, the brightest lights on the planet laser focused on his eyeballs and a doctor, who likely has coffee breath looking intently at your eye through a lens that magnifies that bright light even more are the hoops Judah has to jump through before he is allowed to leave. Now, don't misunderstand. I am so grateful my son is able to receive this kind of excellent, thorough care. Recently, Judah learned that Johns Hopkins is considered one of the best hospitals in the world. Since then, he's repeated several times, "I am so glad I get to go to the best hospital in the world." And, we are, too! Truly. I wouldn't be recounting our visit today in such a flippant manner had the outcome of Judah's examinations been different. We received good news today. The surgeries Judah had as a baby are holding strong and keeping the condition in his eyes stable for now. We are grateful. After a much longer visit than I anticipated, it was the dinner hour, and Judah and I were both in need of nourishment. I needed caffeine for the trip home. Judah needed pizza and root beer. So, we trekked down the hallway to the hospital cafeteria. Fixing my coffee, I bumped into someone and politely said, "Excuse me." Out of the corner of my eye, I wondered if I knew the woman I bumped. We all have these moments. You see someone out of context, out in public somewhere and you wonder, "Do I know that person? I think I know that person. I do know that person. I wonder if she saw me. I wonder if she recognizes me." And, it's at this point you have a decision to make. Do you initiate a greeting, wait to see if she initiates, or bury your head in your purse to look for something while you dart around the corner pretending you never saw the person?

God is growing me in making the most of these opportunities, especially when Judah and I are at the hospital in part due to the memory of our first trip to Hopkins. Judah and Tucker were only days old, and here we were at a world renown hospital. I was incredibly overwhelmed with our new reality. I wasn't but several feet inside the doors of Hopkins when a woman approached me who was accompanying her young daughter in a wheelchair with tubes coming out of her nose. She offered her smile, a warm greeting, reassurance that we were in good hands and gave me a hug. I am convinced she was an angel sent from Heaven to me that day. I have never forgotten that experience. And, now I want to be that angel to someone else, daunted by their new found reality of illness, weakness, and even imminent death. So, I approached her. Not remembering her name, I asked her if she had at one time attended IUP and worked in the Writing Center. Indeed she did. I confessed that I thought I knew her but didn't remember her name. She graciously replied, "Sandy. Did you used to be blonde?" After introducing Judah to her and a very brief catching up, I asked what brought her to Hopkins. She nodded to the right in the direction of an elderly couple, "My mom." I gently touch her arm and ask her mom's name. "Paula." It must have been so fresh that she couldn't even utter the diagnosis. Sandy was the deer in the headlights I remember being that first day we visited Hopkins. I looked Paula and her husband in the eye and back to Sandy and said, "Well, I don't know specifically what to pray for, but I will pray for you on our way home tonight." And, with that Judah and I left. Instead of walking straight to our car, I took Judah to see the giant statue of Jesus that is so well known at Hopkins.

Jesus Statue in Johns Hopkins Hospital, a photo by integrity_of_light on Flickr. Rounding the corner, I ask Judah if he remembers seeing this from his early days spent at Hopkins. "No, mom. Why is it here?" "I'm not sure what the history of it is, Judah, but maybe it's here to remind all the sick people and the smart nurses and doctors who the real healer is, who the Great Physician is," I replied. And, with that we found a corner near the book where people write out their prayers and took a knee to say a prayer for Sandy and Paula and Paula's doctors. I remember working with Sandy. She was an upbeat, perpetually positive person. But, I didn't know if Sandy knew the Creator who gave her such a disposition. Nearing the end of my stint as a writing tutor, not knowing if I'd ever see Sandy again, I asked her if I

could share the "Four Spiritual Laws" with her, a booklet that takes a person through the Gospel. At the time, it may have just been information, but I don't know what God has done in Sandy's life or heart since then. I don't know if she's run into other Christians who have shared with her the life giving truths of the Gospel. But, I do know she's likely feeling desperate tonight. And, I'm praying that if she hasn't made Christ her Savior and God, she will. So, next time I'm staring at fish waiting for the doctor to call my name, I will remember Sandy and know that all timing is God's timing and that there might just be another divine run in waiting for me around the corner.

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