Sacred Stories | A Cup of Cold Water

“If anyone gives so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple, then I tell you solemnly he will most certainly not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42 NRSV

There was an elderly patient in our unit who nervously waited for his doctor’s arrival because he anticipated going home. He had reading material in his room, and staff members encouraged him to relax and read while he waited. Instead, he wandered the area despite nurses’ instructions to wait in his room with his infected leg elevated.

As I walked down the hall toward his room, I heard him talking to the housekeeper, who I’ll call Jean. She noted she had a hard time reading without glasses, too. She and the patient talked and laughed for some time, and the patient seemed less anxious after their conversation.

When I entered his room later that afternoon, I commented it was good to see him relaxed and reading with his sore leg elevated, as it needed to be. He replied, “That little angel, Jean, gave me her reading glasses, and that’s all I needed; I couldn’t read a thing without them.”

Like giving a cup of cold water to someone who is thirsty, Jean’s simple act of kindness meant so much to that man. Her sincere grasp of what service truly means is an excellent example of our core values in action. When I asked Jean about it, she gave me one of her great smiles and said, “It was the least I could do. They aren’t prescription. They only cost a dollar, and he left his at home.” Jean saw nothing special about her behavior that day. Not only is she an excellent housekeeper, she is an outstanding human being.

Some people may think of housekeepers as less “important” than nurses or doctors. Jean proves to me and to our patients that this is just not true. Our team is better because of Jean. She truly demonstrates that an everyday “cup of cold water” makes a positive difference.

Shared from the Sacred Stories Archive

Questions for Reflection

Have you observed a time when things did not go well due to an unmet need?

How might you or another tuned in to that need?

How can CommonSpirit colleagues be more attuned to those they serve?

About Sacred Stories

As CommonSpirit Health, we make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of
the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.

Sacred Stories convey ways our mission is being lived out by the gifted people in our ministry. We invite you to
use these stories for inspiration, as a meeting reflection, or to encourage discussion with your team.