By Naomi Beauclair, volunteer in Thailand
When we go to the long term, infirmary floors at St. Louis Hospital, I see before me very sick and old men and women lying in hospital beds; I see before me their death beds and Jesus lying there, as if he were in the stable with Mary and Joseph. Only through the eyes of Mary’s heart can I see those poor cribs. There are many men and women on the 4th and 5th floors who lie in bed all day and night, sleeping or staring at nothing in the silence of lowing, murmuring oxygen machines, with the slow and simple clank of silverware, and the sacred touch of a friend’s hand. These people exist day and night in cold poverty exposed to humanity’s fierce punches. They are defenseless, vulnerable, weak. Many cannot speak. Visits to these elderly people has revealed to me the beauty and necessity of a gentle presence.
My Thai teacher asked me why we go to see the old people at the hospital, barging into a room without the person/people’s given consent, and speaking about...nothing. It took me a moment to figure out how to explain what happens at St. Louis Hospital— the beauty that is revealed and the presence that is given. I wanted to tell her this: Going with Our Lady who senses invitations to enter rooms, and who is attentive to the poor one’s needs, each visit is different. Aware of the poor one’s great defenselessness, we approach each crib with humility, with the loving eyes of a new mother, in the love of her spouse the Holy Spirit. Only then can we approach each manger and speak about nothing or not speak at all. Only then can we meekly enter the stable of Love—of death, of life—with unuttered consent, and gently touch Jesus in those who are lonely, those who have no one.