A few years ago, at this time of year, I went to the doctor with what I thought might be an ear infection. I remember feeling quite annoyed that I was losing some good shopping time. After endless waiting in the small room, the nurse finally came in looking a bit disheveled. I had seen her before and through bits and pieces of past conversations had come to know she had some health challenges of her own.
“Sorry for the wait,” she said. “What a crazy time of year, uh?”
“Sure is,” I answered.
“Think you might have an ear infection? Let’s see if you’ve got a temperature. Nope. Temp is normal.”
“Good,” I said.
Making notes, she asked, “Got your Christmas shopping done?’
“Oh, no!” I said. “Way behind this year.”
“Me too,” she said. And then, a silence hung over us as she wrapped the cuff around my arm. Suddenly, I heard myself asking, “How are you doing this year?” Sheepishly, she shook her head and said, “Oh, okay. Been better, I guess. I’m on my own this year and,” shaking her head a bit, “just don’t know how I’m going to cover it all.” Then, abruptly, “But you didn’t come in here to see about me! Blood pressure looks good. Let’s take a look in that ear. Oh, sure does look red. Open wide. Throat looks good.”
As she returned to her notes, I said, “Must be hard on your own, especially this time of year.” Then, pausing, she looked up at me sweetly, “Well, we all do the best we can, don’t we? But, thank you.” As she turned for the door, she smiled back at me. “The doctor will be in shortly.”And, out she went.
Shortly after, I left, picked up my antibiotics, my ear throbbing now, and headed home. Then, a light went on. “Okay, God. Now I know why you wanted me to go to the doctor today.” Then I felt my brow crinkle, “But, did I have to get this awful ear infection?” And, instantly, I knew, “You’ll be okay a day from now. Your nurse won’t be.”
I waited a couple of days to return to the office. I made sure I went in with my coat hood up just in case she came into the waiting room. You see, it’s very important that Santa’s helpers go about in disguise. I left a small envelop for her, signed from her Secret Santa, and swore all the other office elves to secrecy.
I usually see her each time I go to the doctor and now it’s almost worth whatever I am dealing with just to exchange a smile with her. How many times I have imagined her trying to figure out just who her Secret Santa might be and just the thought of it never fails to make my heart swell.
You see, Santa’s helpers know it is in secret that God does the most special work because the love never finds its end. It seeks no name. It needs no acknowledgement or gratitude. In secret, it becomes the gratitude, the wonder quickening the heart to respond in ways we don’t anticipate or expect, again and again, without end…
Shhhhhhh…listen…for that soft whisper…It is Love’s greatest secret…
Who knows? It just may put you on assignment…
Merry Christmas Everyone!