When I go to see my doctor at the hospital downtown, I find the crowds overwhelming.
A steady stream of people driving into the cavernous garage, parking (badly), limping and hurrying over to the elevator, down on the street, weaving their way around tourists.
Pregnant women with anxious men by their side walking to the women’s hospital; elderly people with walkers, walking slowly on the cross-walk, making their way to and from Oncology and Orthopedics; harried women pushing strollers with tiny premies sleeping in them.
It’s profoundly depressing being around them. So many, many broken bodies and hearts.
It reminds me of going for chemotherapy back in 2009 and 2010 in Stillwater. I’d show up, and all these heavy eyes stared at me, as if to say, What are you doing here? 95% of the patients there were elderly, a good number of them in their 80s. I felt like a ghost already.
And yet, in these crowds of sick people, I sense something else too.
All these young parents – tired, anxious, struggling to keep track of multiple offspring, pushing wheelchairs with pre-adolescent children in them. All these bent, old, gray, tottering men, helping their sick wives into the elevator. Middle aged women walking at a slow pace with their elderly parents.
I’m surrounded by a great beating heart. These broken, sick, suffering bodies held close and treasured by their healthy loved ones. Daily they wend their way through Chicago’s frenzied traffic, the parking garages, the impatient crosswalks. Daily they trudge the long way to the correct medical department, check in with the businesslike desk staff, and wait until their beloved sick dear one can see the doctor, get their imaging done, get their blood drawn, lie under the CT scanner or the radiation machine. Then they come for follow-up, for more follow-up, more tests, more consultation visits.
This place is a source of limitless hope and energy.
Allah created mercy in one hundred parts and retained with Him ninety-nine parts, and He has sent down upon the earth one part. And it is because of this one part that there is mutual love among the creation – so much so that the animal lifts up its hoof from its young one, fearing that it might harm it. – The Prophet Muhammad