Last weekend I heard a story from a Monsignor at church, and I kept thinking back on it all week. I'd like to share it with you.
The story he told is about a woman named Hannah, and it goes like this:
A bald, emaciated man lay in the hospital bed exhausted and weak after a bone marrow transplant for leukemia. His nurse tiptoed in.
“Mr. Jensen. I am your nurse, Hannah”. He barely nodded.
Hannah checked his vital signs, and asked, “Would you like some soup?”
He shook his head, no - "I just want to sleep," he said.
Hannah came back later with medication. He took it and sank back against the pillow. Hannah offered him the paper but he did not want it. Feeling defeated and concerned, she left.
She went to the nurses’ kitchen to pour herself a cup of tea. Then she changed her mind, grabbed the large teapot, and placed it on a tray with some toast and two cups. Then she headed for Mr. Jensen’s room.
“Would I be disturbing you if I have my tea here in your room?" Hannah asked. “I would like to watch the news, if it is all right.”
“Not at all,” Mr. Jensen said, but he was clearly taken aback.
Hannah turned on the TV, then poured herself a cup of tea. “I brought an extra cup, if you would like some,” she offered.
“Maybe I will have half a cup,” he said.
Jensen and Hannah watched the news in silence, until he nodded off. As she got up to go, he asked, “Are you in tomorrow?”
“I am, and I will have tea with you again tomorrow, if you would like.”
“Yes, I would like that” he answered.
The next night Mr. Jensen had two cups of tea and a piece of toast – his first solid food in a month. The third night he and Hannah talked about their families, their hometowns, their lives outside the hospital. The fourth night, he got out of bed and sat in a chair.
A few days later, Hannah found Mr. Jensen’s room empty. He had recovered enough to go home to recuperate.
Some time later Hannah was downtown shopping when she heard a familiar voice. “Hannah it is good to see you”, said Mr. Jensen, as he gave her a big hug.
“This is Hannah, “ he said, introducing her to his wife. “She saved my life with a cup of tea”.
We have lots of opportunities to make a difference in others' lives. Most of these happen (or don't) based on spur of the moment decisions in our hearts and minds.
We all know that productivity is the collective result of small actions. Don't underestimate the power of small gestures of kindness, either.