There are many interesting moments in this island of mortals meeting their mortality. Nationalities, tribes, races, ages; divisions are meaningless amongst the waiting rooms, rest rooms and consultation rooms, we are all just human beings.
This morning, ninth floor Gonda building, a dazzling view of the Plummer Building, subject of my infatuation in an earlier post and just across the street from my chair by the floor length window. A family of five comes from the bank of elevators, some in western dress, some in burkas. The daughter or grandaughter, looking as if she would be comfortable in any 6th grade suburban school clad in jeans and T- shirt, stops in her tracks at the sight of the buildings outside the window. Gazing at the Plummer Building she says, “That kingdom is very high! Is that the ruler’s kingdom?”
I was so taken by her language. The subtle understanding that this was indeed a kingdom of a different sort. A Camelot, where the past rulers decided to treat each being with respect and love and concern; where each of us is worthy of compassion fit for a “ruler.” The code of conduct on a wall in Rochester Methodist Hospital, part of the Mayo system said “Patient forward”. Here that means to staff, volunteers and residents of this “Med City” that your needs are more important than my ego. I will serve the need of compassion until 5 pm this evening.
We watched a Doctor who had been instrumental to our care leave the building at the end of the day. She who carries her own physical trials; an illness so exotic and physically taxing that I can only imagine the emotional, mental toll but it took up no space in our examining room.
And what about the women in burkas. Who are they? What does it feel like to be here among us that appear to have so much personal freedom? Today we passed through the Peace Plaza in the afternoon. In the summer, probably the shortest season here in Minnesota, there is a gathering on Thursdays. Street venders, food venders and wonderful music convene in this three sided place.
It is so unusual to see so many people of different places, so many people of different capacities. Wheelchairs, braces, hand holding, surgical scrubs and street clothes, all mingling and enjoying the smells and the sounds. As we passed the bandstand holding a Jazz quintet of “50’s” something musicians playing a “40’s” something ballad, there was a couple dancing. This couple in their 70’s was grinning, leaning into each other, and the music. They were both aware and oblivious of the others that were fed by their spontaneous remembrance of good times, and love, and each other.
As we moved through the bystanders, I saw her. She was dressed all in black from head to toe. She wore a burka and a batoola, a golden mask that covered her nose and mouth. What it didn’t cover was her eyes, they were lined and creased, older than me, smiling and wet with tears. Our eyes met as we passed, understanding of the joy of this moment for the dancing woman. The joy was shared between us too. We are the same as that woman dancing with the man that she loves, free from care….for this moment. For this moment is joyful, for this moment nothing else matters.
I learned something today. The joyfulness of women is universal. I wish you many more moments of joy, my friend in black. May we all work together to bring more of that into the world.