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Singing in the Hallway

Recently, I was sitting in the waiting room of a local lab waiting my turn for a blood draw, number 36 in a room full of people waiting for the same procedure, when I heard a clear on-key male voice singing Christmas carols in the hallway.

Most of the people in the room were focused on other things--speaking in low voices to others next to them, attending to their children’s needs, waiting for their number to be called while silently worrying about what their blood work would reveal. And in the background was the voice of the front desk clerk, “ Do you have any COVID symptoms? Have you recently had a positive test? Have you had any contact in the last 14 days with someone who had COVID?” This litany was repeated every time someone walked through the door and approached the desk laying down their order in front of the clerk, a ritual repeated incessantly since the patients never stopped entering the room.

 The singer seamlessly rolled from one song into another without interruption, his voice cutting through the silence and small talk like a bell ringing in the background, calling us to pay attention. I was so enthralled by his courage that I was tempted to join him in the hallway. Here was a man who had no qualms about making his voice heard, like one singing in the wilderness (yes, I know…”crying in the wilderness”).  He wasn’t concerned about what others thought.  He just knew that he had to sing.

Some would say that he was mentally ill and was moved out into the hallway because he would cause an unwelcome disruption in the waiting room. Others think that sometimes those with mental illness are in some way closer to spiritual realities than most of us are.

What I do know is that this man was attempting to give the rest of us a gift, and instead of welcoming it, he was taken out of the waiting room and isolated because he might disturb someone.

How many times have we written someone off or rejected a gift because the person involved did not meet our expectations or criteria? Yes, I know that we have to be careful these days, but in our desire to be careful, do we miss gifts that God intended to give to us through someone else however unworthy of our attention?

Be attentive. Listen carefully, Open the eyes of your mind and heart.  You just might get exactly what you need in that moment!


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