A Smile

I spent a chunk of the evening tonight in the emergency room. If you are a pastor then there is a good chance you have spent a chunk of time in the ER from time to time too. Anyway, a couple of my students were in a wreck tonight. They are OK, but one of them has to go to Dothan to have surgery to set a bone in his leg. But that isn’t what I wanted to write about.

In the hospital along with the family of the kids I was there to see were a number of Hispanics. They were obviously in pain, but more than that they looked really nervous. There was a good chance that they were involved in the wreck that my students were in, but since the people in the other car had run away no one knew for sure. What was sure was the feeling of the families I knew towards Hispanics at that moment. It was an interesting scene with these two cultures sitting side by side.

After a while all of the Hispanics walked out except for one girl. She was small and young early 20’s at the most and in obvious pain. She also looked very scared and very alone. I noticed her and tried to find a way to help her. After a moment she looked up at me and I smiled and asked, "Are you OK?" She obviously didn’t understand what I asked, but she smiled back and we returned to our silence.

After a few minutes the nurse called her name. She stood and tried to walk, but her hip was hurting so bad she looked like she would fall. I looked back at the nurse to see if she would come and help, and when I turned back around this little girl was looking at me with these pleading eyes and holding out her hand for me to help her. I have to admit that it broke my heart. I stood up and gently helped her back to where the nurse was waiting. She smiled and I smiled and we parted ways.

When I came back to sit down the families of the kids in the wreck gave me a sideways glance almost as if they wondered why I had helped. I understand where they were coming from: they were hurting and they were responding out of their hurt. I also don’t think they saw the look in this little girls eyes. They didn’t see the fear and the pain that I saw. I wished that there was more that I could do. I wished that there was something that I could say.

What amazed me about the whole thing, though, was that it was my small smile, my feeble attempt at comfort that made the difference. When she was in need and in pain she turned to me because I had been kind to her. That is such a picture of our job in the church. We share the love of Christ with people, we reach them with kindness, and they were are there for them when they are hurting. That is who we are. That is what the body of Christ should be. More than preachers, or teachers, or theologians, or singers, or dancers, or youth ministers we should be people who show the love of Christ. That is what will make a difference, way more than all of this other stuff that we do and call church.

Tonight I think I have a new goal. I want to learn Spanish. I know I won’t be able to learn much, but whatever your political views of Hispanics being in a country where no one speaks your language must be scary. I want to be be able to help sometimes.  

3 thoughts on “A Smile

  • March 15, 2006 at 6:38 PM

    I would have to concur with you on your desire to learn Spanish. I know some of the most basic terms that we learned in 4th grade, but that’s about it. If I had any idea back in high school how the landscape of our melting pot of a country would be changing over the years, I would have told Madame Belote, "Je ne desirez pour apprendre Francais."

    Political views aside, at least some knowledge of the Spanish language would definitely be more useful today than the little bit of French I managed to retain over the years. I think this is true anywhere across the country, even as far north of the border as Mayfield, KY. I would have to say when the boys reach the age in school to pick a foreign language class, the choice will be pretty obvious.

  • March 16, 2006 at 5:54 PM

    Spanish ought to be mandatory in grade school these days. I walked through the new grade school in Mayfield last year on a weekend, and checked out their new classrooms. I couldn’t pronounce half of the names on the lockers and cubbies that the kids had, there were SO MANY Hispanic-sounding names. I think I’m too old to learn it now….

  • March 16, 2006 at 6:07 PM

    You are never too old! I taught myself guitar a few years ago because it was a skill I needed. I plan on getting some "learn Spanish on tape" program and listen to those in the car to start with. I’m not looking to know much I just want to be able to help translate in every day situations from time to time.


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