But as grateful as I feel, I also can’t escape a certain sadness that accompanies my gratitude. The beautiful children that I played with, their parents that we treated, and the elderly that we cared for – are blessed with so few material comforts. Their opportunities are limited and their lives are hard. And yet, even so, they live with no scarcity of joy and happiness. They are deeply connected to each other and experience no shortage of gratitude for what they have. I go on this trip to help them. And they, in turn, teach me so much.
And the entire experience is made even more precious by my colleagues, my co-workers, my friends. My lifelong friend, Rabbi Abie, makes it all happen. The compassion and kindness of Drs. Lauri and Richard are so deeply felt in their examining rooms. And my good friend Nurse Cathy can make anyone laugh and feel good. And Stephanie, Rabbi Abie’s assistant, performed the miracle of keeping the schedules moving every single day. And, of course, Andrew, whose ever-present camera preserved so many memories of this wonderful week.
But the greatest sense of hope comes from the twelve delicious Xavier students who worked so hard every day, and so beautifully together, with such great compassion toward everyone they touched. I always tell the students that I worry, at the beginning of the trip, that I will never remember all their names. But by the end of the week, I know that I will never forget any one of them.
What a week of lasting and memorable blessings.
March 10, 2014