“Listen and attend with the ear of your heart.” – St. Benedict of Nursia, Founder of the Benedictine Order (480-547)
In the December-darkened room, the little girl shone brightly. With a mop of golden curls and a sunny smile, she looked like the Campbell’s Soup child. Her young mother was caring for her grandmother. The little girl was quiet, but I could see that the hospital room was not much fun for her. With her mother’s permission, I began to play with the young girl. We colored pictures and quietly read stories.
Day by day, I came to know the child and her mother better. They lived with the grandmother and depended on her home and her wisdom. Her illness troubled them, and uncertainty hovered nearby.
One afternoon, Santa came to visit the unit. With her mother’s permission, I took the child to see him. She was still with awe. I asked her if she would like to tell Santa what she wanted for Christmas, but she said no. “Would you like to tell me, and I can tell him?” I asked. She whispered in my ear, “A Dora the Explorer doll.”
Later, I told her mother what the child had asked for. Grimly, she said, “Santa doesn’t come to our house. Santa is just for those who have money.” Suddenly, I realized what kind of Christmas awaited this little family. It broke my heart.
I called one of my coworkers to share my sadness. She said, “I have a Dora the Explorer doll under my tree at home. I bought it for a friend’s daughter, but my friend told me, ‘please do not give it to my daughter; she already has so many toys.’ I am going to call my husband right now and ask him to bring it here.”
When the doll arrived, we placed it under the Christmas tree in my unit. When all was ready, I brought the child to the tree. When she saw the doll, she gasped, “Santa listened to me! He really listened!”
There are many problems we cannot f ix: broken families, miserable economics, shattered health. But we can listen to each other, and perhaps that is the greatest gift of all.
The author is Betsy Kammerdiener
Shared from the Sacred Stories Archive
Question for Reflection
When was the last time you demonstrated our value of compassion by caring with listening, empathy, and love?
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