While working the night shift at St. Vincent Infirmary, a patient of mine forever changed my view on life.
This patient was blind, so I made frequent stops in her room. Early one morning, I asked if she would like me to order her breakfast. Although I was swamped with the upcoming shift change and charts, I took the time to read the menu to her, tell her which items I recommended and call dietary to place her order.
Anxious to go and finish the rest of my work, I asked if there was anything else she needed before I left. She asked if the sun was rising yet. I walked to her window and slightly opened a blind, responding, "Yes, ma'am, it is." She asked if I would open the blinds for her. I was a little bewildered, but I opened the blinds to the new morning.
As I did so, I wondered what this new day would hold. What promises, heartaches and losses would each of us endure? As I pondered my silent inquiries, my patient sighed deeply and said she had not seen a sunrise in decades. She told me the heart-wrenching story of how she lost her eyesight as a young child, and how she would love to see a sunrise just one more time.
I looked at the clock, and back to silent tears now streaking my patient’s aged face. I walked to her bedside, held her hand for a moment and said "Can I paint it for you?"
She smiled and said, "Well, honey, I still won't be able to see it!"
“Yes, ma'am, you will, because God is the painter," I said.
I let go of her hand and walked back to the window. I described the sunrise in such poetic terms that I astounded myself. I described the shades of the shadows that tried to hide from the golden rays of sun. I blended the hues of blue, purple, pink, orange, yellow and gray in the sky. I highlighted the greenery as it was touched by the sunlight, and described the wisps of cloud with their silver linings.
I turned back to my patient, who was still crying, but smiling. She thanked me for taking the time to describe something so many of us take for granted. She said that a heavy burden of grief had been lifted, and it was a gift to see again, if only for a moment, through my words. I grasped her outreached hand, and she said it was her turn to paint me a picture.
"Most people worry about tomorrow. They don't stop to see the beauty God has put in front of them, or the promises of beauty within that prove God’s love. If God takes care of the birds, don't you think God will take care of you? So I ask you, who is it that is truly blind?"
Shocked, I answered honestly. "Me," I said.
My patient said, “I depend on God every day to take care of me. Today, God sent a young girl to describe a sunrise to me. If you open your eyes, you will see that God will take care of you, too." Through my tears, I thanked her and hugged her.
On the way home, I pondered her words of wisdom. I realized that a healing had taken place for both of us, and that through us, God had met both of our needs. I was being robbed by worry, fear and doubt, when, in fact, each day was a blessing.
Since that day, I look to the morning with expectation and hope, which has changed my attitude and even "infects" the people around me. I've learned to count my blessings. Often, when the shadows fall just right and the hues in the sky blend perfectly as they did on that life-changing morning, I think of my patient and thank God for sending her across my path.