In her recent book, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Katrine Firlik describes how, in the last year of her residency, she had an encounter with a patient that taught her all over again how important it is to see each patient with new eyes:
I walked into yet another examining room … a brand-new consult from out of town: 18-years-old, cerebral palsy, spasticity. Okay, okay, I've seen this before, I just need to get a good history before my attending walks in. Efficiency is key…It was clear I wasn't going to get the story from him, so I turned to the parents, my back toward the patient, and started to take down the history. …
[When my mentor walked in], I cringed…He sat down on the examining table, the only seat left in the cramped room. After introducing himself, he surveyed the compact scene—the patient, the parents—and then focused his gaze back on the patient. After what seemed like several, almost uncomfortably quiet seconds, he looked the patient in the eye and asked, "So, when did you graduate from high school?" The young man's face lit up like I had no idea it could.
My mentor had noticed something I had missed. The patient was wearing a large high-school ring, so large that it looked a little silly on his bony finger. His body, far more than his mind, had borne the brunt of his cerebral palsy. He was a proud, beaming high-school graduate, who used a specialized computer to help him communicate. For the remainder of the visit I sat in the corner, duncelike, humbled by the enormity of this ring now staring me in the face…
I’m no neurosurgeon [Perish the thought! I can’t even cut my kids’ PB&J’s in a straight line.], but I’ve had more of these types of encounters than I care to admit. Despite prayers to the contrary, there’s a better than average chance that I’ll do it this Sunday. I will not pay close attention. I will look right past someone. I will see them and not see them.
As we continue our tour around the Bible, looking at passages that speak about listening for God, this Sunday we come across a passage where Jesus reminds us that it’s possible to look without seeing and hear without hearing.
I pray that you’ll see and hear God today.