How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news
I can understand what it's like to be given a last minute reprieve. After a week spent with tubes and machines and embarrassing hospital gowns -- after being probed and scanned and punctured and pestered for days, the message came down that apparently, there's nothing really wrong and I could go home.
Being hospitalized, of course, gives one time and a reason to contemplate matters of life and its inevitable end and when it comes to hospitals and jails and other places of misery, it seems there are those good folks wandering about that would like very much indeed to offer one the comforts of their beliefs. Being all but trussed up like a sacrificial lamb and being fairly certain that the Mayans would have to hold their apocalypse without me, perhaps one can forgive me for being disinclined to being sociable to salesmen, for such I do see them. Yes I loathe having myths and ludicrous beliefs being sold to me as though I were some primitive, but it also seems like a hell of an ugly thing to go out rudely and in an undignified fashion by being nasty to them. The nearness of death, that great equalizer, should really teach a bit of compassion -- and so it does.
The first gentleman in a bright blue volunteer blazer identified himself as a chaplain and looking at his clipboard, he seemed puzzled that I had answered "none" to the question of religious preference.
" No, I don't have one," I said. " I don't prefer one over the next."
"Well that's OK, said he. "But if there's anything you need, you can call on me." Thank you very much," I answered, meaning it.The following day, a woman perhaps a few years older than I am arrived with the same clipboard and heavenly blue jacket.
"I'm not religious," I replied to the same question.
"So does that mean you don't believe in God?"
"It means I don't feel any reason to believe in gods or souls. I'm just not religious."
"Neither was Jesus," she responded, sensing an opening.
"OK, fine"She seemed perturbed.
"You know Jesus wasn't religious either"I said, being as terse as possible and not wanting to get drawn into the programmed dialog she's been trained to draw me into as though I couldn't lecture her for days on Jewish messianic movements, I retreated into my Kindle and ignored her as she went on about peace and how she had it and how we all needed it and she of course had it from Jesus. Any sarcasm would of course been lost and a bit out of place anyway and eventually she left with an odd expression that must have been the result of some inner peace that surpasseth all endurance, especially mine.
"I can understand that"
The next day, awaiting with some trepidation the results of a CT scan, a pair of Baptist chaplains approached the man in the next bed, behind a curtain who thanked them politely but as a Roman Catholic felt he needs better served elsewhere.
"Well all right." They said cheerfully. "We hope everything works out well for you."Approaching me next, the elderly, black (about my age) woman in the chaplain coat looked at her clip board.
"It says you don't have a religion but I thought maybe you could use a smile."
"You know, I really, absolutely, could and that's the best one I've seen in a long time. Thank you!"And thus is the light spread. Stepping out into the afternoon sun and sea wind, it was as though everything was new.
Thus is the light of your virtue still on its way, even when its work is done. Be it forgotten and dead, still its ray of light lives and travels. That your virtue is your Self, and not an outward thing, a skin, or a cloak: that is the truth from the basis of your souls, you virtuous ones!