Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, in Orillia, Ontario, is set up on one of the many hills in the city. While the building itself is only a few stories tall, its location offers a commanding view of the city, so when I visit patients, I always take advantage of the vista and make sure to pause and admire the view.
Looking out over Orillia from the fourth floor you can see houses, restaurants, shops, a huge medical clinic, small factories, schools, a bit of Lake Simcoe and some of the surrounding countryside. It’s definitely worth a look.
From that vantage point I not only see the buildings, roads, greenery (or snow) and all that makes up a wee city, but also a myriad of people living their lives, going to eat, to work, to physiotherapy, to whatever is part of a normal life. I am all too aware, however, that all this is taking place while I am in a hospital, visiting folks for whom life is not at all normal. They are receiving palliative care, or getting new joints so that they can have greater mobility and less pain. They may be recovering from an illness, or in transit from living on their own to a long-term care facility. For whatever reason, I am visiting folks in crisis.
Meanwhile, life goes on in Orillia, with folks unaware of what’s going on in the hospital. Not only do they not know about what the patients are dealing with, they don’t really care. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not being critical. Their lack of concern doesn’t mean they are heartless, cold, or selfish. They don’t care because they are not involved in the lives of the people in the hospital. They have their own worries, concerns and pains. They have their own circle of family and friends they care about, their own spheres of influence where they laugh, cry and share their feelings. They may know someone in the hospital, but then again, they might not.
From the vantage point of a hospital window, seeing folks living life as normal, I realize how disconnected we can be. People living their lives in Orillia may know somebody receiving medical care at Soldiers’ Memorial. I might well meet them in the halls or on the street and commiserate with them about common connection. But, then again, they may not know anyone currently in Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital. In this time of their lives they may appreciate its presence, but it has no direct bearing on them.
Yet as I look over Orillia from up on high, I know that we all live life together. I may not know any of the people I see out there, they might not know anyone I’m visiting in the hospital, but we are all living our lives together, sharing the same kinds of highs and lows, joys and pains, suffering and celebration that is part of being human. As such, we are all God’s children, united in God’s loving heart even if we don’t know one another. From up on high in a hospital window, I can see a lot going on, but I don’t see or know everything. God, on the other hand, sees and knows everything that’s going on. What’s more, God cares for each and every human and, through Jesus, shows us what that looks like.
We might not be able to know or to care for humanity the way that God does, but that doesn’t mean we can’t care for the folks that we can see from our own particular vantage point, whatever it might be.