Doctor’s office. She sits beside me, the sun
from the windows warm on our shoulders,
both of us wait to be called from what is known,
without irony, as the waiting room.
I glance sideways. A wisp of woman,
clearly a lot older than me (and I’m
pretty old) with sparse, nothing-colored
hair, skin drawn tight over cheekbones,
mouth gathered to a small purse, eyes sparks
of improbable blue. The purse opens in a burst
of gratitude: “Beautiful sun! Such a beautiful day!
It makes me so happy!” She folds me into
her smile, enveloping me with her gift
of hilarity. My name is called. I smile back
and leave her to her delight, certain that
even should a cloud conceal the object
of her contentment, she’ll know that
somewhere it still shines up there. And that
no shadow, not even nightfall, can extinguish
the magnificence that inhabits her being.
How like God to send me a gift of encouragement! I’d gone to my clinic because of some aches and pains that persisted in spite of treatment. I have a wonderful doctor, who always treats me with affection and skill, but as I sat in the waiting room I’d wondered what she could possibly recommend next. At 84, just when one ailment gets fixed — with a new knee, hearing aids, glasses, medication — something else is bound to go. It’s become a kind of routine.
I was overdue for help, both physical and spiritual. And there she was, this small anonymous messenger from God. Was she a Christian believer? I have no idea. But the happiness that filled her spilled over to me. Sunshine — its warmth and light — are reminders of the larger Source of love and light. And that day brought God’s gift to me in an unanticipated way.
Luci Shaw is a poet, essayist, lecturer, and Writer in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver. Widely anthologized, her writing has appeared in IMAGE, Weavings, Books & Culture, The Christian Century, Relief, Rock & Sling, Ruminate, Radix, Crux, The Southern Review, Stonework, Nimble Spirit, and others. She works with the Alms Ministry at St. Paul’s Church, Bellingham, WA. Her new book of essays on aging, Adventure of Ascent, is forthcoming in 2013 from InterVarsity Press. For further information visit www.lucishaw.com.