I was an in-house attorney for a hospital for about 8 years. I used to love walking by the valet where so many families and patients entered the hospital. I would silently pray for those entering the doors and observe whether anyone needed help. On one particular day, I observed an exchange between a couple that was ordinary, yet filled with God’s grace, love and beauty. It was sacred. It went like this…
The pick-up truck crusted from West Texas dirt pulled up curbside in the valet area. The driver opened his door and surveyed his surroundings. After a brief exchange with the valet, he rounded the front of his truck. He was tall and strong, but the hands of time had weathered his exterior. And based on his gait, his joints may have been a little creaky. He stepped up on the curb and opened the passenger door to reveal a petite lady, nicely coiffed with a pleasant smile; very pretty. My guess is that she was the Queen of the rodeo back in her day.
He extended his hand to her, like a coachman might do for Cinderella. She grasped it and used the hold as leverage to slowly turn towards him. And then I see she is quite frail and slow moving. She situates herself so that they are squarely facing each other. She took a long contemplative pause and observed the sidewalk below. I wondered how she was going to make the step down from her seat to the curb. Her husband leaned in. She put her arms around his neck and placed her cheek against his, holding on with what little strength she could muster. He embraced her and eased her down with a perfect combination of strength and gentleness. Once her feet were firmly planted on the ground, he slowly eased away and steadied her. She looked a little uncertain, maybe sad or anxious. There was concern in her eyes. He gave her a reassuring grin and hug.
Once satisfied that his wife could steady herself by holding onto the door, he walked to the back of the truck and retrieved a small personal duffle bag and a walker. He placed the walker in front of her. Slowly and with great effort, she grasped with one hand and then another, careful to shift her weight from the door to the walker. She was older, yet far too young to be so meek. Together, they slowly made their way to the entry of the hospital. He was leading the way just a half a step ahead, while she concentrated intently on each step before her.
Unexpectedly, she released one hand from the walker long enough to grab his elbow. A bit startled, he stopped and turned to see what was wrong. She leaned towards him and he leaned towards her, I thought perhaps they might exchange a whisper. Lovingly, she planted a kiss on his cheek. It wasn’t a quick peck, but it lingered long enough to be meaningful. He closed his eyes as if savoring the moment. And then they turned and continued their coupled walk into the hospital.
Getting out of a truck is a simple act that often goes unnoticed. It is something most of us take for granted. However, on this particular day, getting out of a truck exposed human frailty, vulnerability and dependence. The marvelous presence of God’s grace, love and beauty transformed the moment into something sacred. And that is why I loved walking by the valet area.