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Friday, January 23, 2015


One morning, a few months after I’d taken over the reins of the hospital, I felt a bit lonely. I’d moved my desk upstairs, in order to have a quiet place to work, but only the Director of Nurses ever ventured into that lofty spot on the Second Floor. Oh, the others greeted me cordially enough when I passed them in the corridor; but I longed to just have a casual chat with the people working in the building. Like friends chatting about the kids or pets over a cup of coffee.

“You’re the Boss,” the Vice-Chairman of the Board (and good friend) reminded me when I voiced my desire, “no one’s going to feel comfortable talking around a table when you’re there.”

“But, I was the Boss of the ambulance service on the reservation the year before last, and my folks loved me. We always had coffee together and sometimes even meals. It didn’t take long before they teased me when I’d made a mistake, either. I was one of the family, you know?”

My friend just shook his head, lifted his coffee mug in salute, and said, “Well, this isn’t the Res.”

“Do you have any idea how long it’ll take before the employees stop ending their coffee break or meal as soon as I set my tray down?” I said, putting my palm over my empty cup to signal the waitress I’d finished.

“I’m not sure it’ll happen in your lifetime,” my friend said, gathering up his notes from our Noon meeting at the café on the hill.

Driving back to the hospital, I reminded myself of the first part of a favorite memory verse. Psalm 68:6 says, “God sets the lonely in families ….” How I missed my family on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation; they’d been such fun to work with. Still, I consoled myself, I’d only been at this new job a few months; I might win them over yet.

About two weeks later, I ran into the husband of my part-time secretary. “Did you hear the news? Mrs. Jensen* died last night.”

“Oh, Keith, no; I hadn’t heard.”

“Yeah, no one even knew she’d been sick. I think a neighbor called and didn’t reach her; but I’m really not sure what happened.”

Ninety-five-year-old Mrs. Jensen had welcomed me so warmly when I first arrived. She’d even invited me to tea that first week. I often crossed her path when running errands in town, and her friendly smile never failed to brighten my day. I’d been meaning to get back for a visit, but--.

“She was from here, right?” I tried to recall meeting any of her family members as I spoke to Keith.

“Mrs. Jensen? No, she wasn’t from here. I think she’d only lived here about fifty years.”

Only fifty years? The Vice-Chairman’s words echoed in my ears; he might be right after all.

Even-so, I developed a few close friendships in the small, rural church. How beautifully they lived out the verse in Romans 15:7:

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

How grateful I am that there’s no waiting with Father God for acceptance. It’s immediate.

*Name changed.

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