This week I had the most amazing experience in the least likely of places.
It all started with a very scary event. One moment I was sitting in a late afternoon meeting feeling a few short bursts of vibration from my phone. A minute later I was out the door of the office striding down Broadway. A few blocks away Miranda had fainted after getting moles removed at the dermatologist’s office. I got to her around the same time as the ambulance.
Fortunately, we now know she is fine – it appears to have been an isolated event either caused by stress, dehydration or perhaps a slight reaction to the local anesthesia. However, at the time, sitting with her in the back of the ambulance, we were both a little rattled and felt it was prudent to go to the hospital to get checked out. A short drive later we arrived at Bellevue Hospital.
For those of you who have never been to a hospital in New York City, it’s quite an adventure. The building itself looked to have been last renovated in the 1960’s, right around the time when that shatter-resistant glass with the chicken wire running through it first became popular. The décor was very basic. White tile flooring, big steel doors, and lots of adjacently attached chairs strung together to make up faux-benches. It was clean, but not that clean. There were quite a few crazy people (most of them perpetually yelling about something or other) and everyone was treated equally – which I found quite humbling.
While Miranda was waiting to get checked out, I was instructed to wait for her in the ER waiting room. In total, we spent about four hours in the hospital so sitting in the waiting room became old very quickly. After the first hour I started to wander around the hospital and explore.
On the second floor of the hospital I found a plain metal door adjacent to a small blue etched sign that read “Synagogue.” Quite contrary to what I expected, that unassuming door opened up to a beautiful little Jewish chapel. There were about 15 mahogany pews, a dozen large stained glass windows and a simple, mahogany lined bema. I was blown away.
After a few minutes sitting in the small empty Synagogue, I got up to head back to the ER waiting room. As I pushed open the metal door to the synagogue, I heard a small click from a door directly across the narrow hallway. About eight feet ahead of me there was a metal door – identical to the one I was exiting – slowly opening toward me. To the right of the door there was another small blue etched sign. This one said “Mosque.”
A middle-aged man with a long grey beard emerged from the door and noticed me at the same time I was noticing him. We both paused for a second, perhaps observing the oddity of our situation, and turned to walk side by side toward the stairs that led back to the main area of the hospital. About three quarters of the way down the stairs, the man behind me tapped me on the shoulder and started to speak. He did not speak English well, so he repeated this phrase twice: “Health, it is a big gift from God.” I turned and looked at him with a smile – I replied kindly, “I agree.” I held the door for him at the bottom of the stairs, we both wished each other a good evening – and we headed our separate ways.
That evening, after we got home and settled I was thankful that everything was ok with Miranda and I was happy the day was over, but I was also thinking about the man from the Mosque. It just seemed so easy for us to get along.
What an incredible roller coaster of a day.