Unconventional Christmas Story
by, 12-26-2013 at 09:14 AM (4916 Views)
Here is an e-mail I received from my physician, Dr. Ron Kennedy. It brings forth memories of similar experiences in my life and reinforces my belief system. Please read and pass it on.
I used to be a young man (hard to believe), and a medical student (my mother could hardly believe that part) and I managed to secure a non-paying job in a hospital in Huehuetenango, Guatemala (look it up, there really is such a place) in 1965.
I lived that summer in the guest house of a Catholic convent operated by the Sisters of Charity and they were kind enough to give me a bit of food thrice each day. My job was basically that of a nurse's assistant.
That summer I saw the worst poverty you can imagine, even babies dying from malnutrition. Their mother's could produce no breast milk because they themselves were starving. Very often babies would arrive at the hospital too late to be saved and they simply died. If they arrived soon enough they received blood transfusions and baby formula, drop by drop so as not to shock their little bodies (because this would kill them).
There are moments in life which a person never forgets and there are several such moments from that summer 48 years ago. Sister Stanislaus, standing beside a starving child, voice trembling and tears flowing, confessed to me these words: "When I was a young nurse here I killed a baby. I did not know that you could not give a blood transfusion rapidly to a starving child, that it had to be given very slowly or the child's heart could be overwhelmed. God may forgive me Ron, but I can never forgive myself."
Sister Stan gave her entire life to helping the poor and suffering. She died in Houston, Texas at the age of 98 in 2004. She remains a tower of conscience in my heart and if she is not with God, there is no God (and there is).
Also, that summer I arose one morning to walk to "El Mercado," the central market place in "El Centro," the central square of the city of Huehuetenango. I was walking slowing when a very small and very old Mayan woman passed me on my left. She was draped in what could only be termed colorful rags. As she passed me she opened her right hand and looked down as if to remind herself what she had to spend at the market that day, and there I saw two copper coins. I remember that as if it were happening now.
Flash forward 48 years and last night I had the pleasure of a gourmet meal with friends and family at the La Rosa restaurant in downtown Santa Rosa. As I surveyed the seven people at the table I thought back to Huehuetanango, Sister Stan, the babies in the hospital, and the Mayan woman.
I am not a person to feel guilty, but there is another feeling that grips me in such moments and that is a sense of responsibility.
So, here is the bottom line. Do not wait for the "Christmas spirit" to track you down and give herself to you. Carpe diem! Seize the Christmas spirit for yourself. Here is how you do it. Do something for someone else. Forget about getting and GIVE something to someone else. Be generous. Give until it hurts. And as you do, contemplate the luck that you have that you can give, that you are not dying of starvation, that you are not walking to the market with two pennies in your hand hoping to get something to make it one more day, because somewhere on this earth someone, many someones, are in exactly that circumstance. Do what you can. Give what you can. Call it what you want, "Pay it forward" - or something. And when you do, your reward is the Christmas spirit. Feeling lonely? Feeling sorry for yourself? Have some anger in your heart?
Jealous of someone? Maybe a little depressed? Here is the beginning of the road to salvation. Do not wait to "feel like it" before you act.
Just act, and then comes the "feeling like it" - and much more. And there is your (unconventional) Christmas Story. Merry Christmas. I love you George. Pass it on. Ron Kennedy