Slowing down… to listen

How health issues were an opportunity to pay attention to my neighbor.

Photo by Surasak Petchang |

2 min read
T. K., New York

Last July was colored by what I’ve been waiting on for six months: a small operation. After convalescing, I would be able to leave for the U.S.

The Word of Life was “There is need of only one thing.” It comes from the Gospel story of Martha and Mary, and contrasts undue activity with stillness, listening, within and without.

My way of living it was largely determined by my stay in hospital, and afterwards the period of convalescence. Because of the physical impact of the operation, and the anesthetic, my head was fuzzy for several days.

All I could do was lie still and accept the attentions of the staff, and the conversations with my roommate. It was difficult to pray because my companion wanted to watch TV during many waking hours. Being present to my roommate was the only thing needed.

My roommate Giorgio began to share his situation: he was not a churchgoer, but nevertheless a believer. His relationship is, he said, directly with God. His partner visited every day, and I began to hear about a broken marriage, his partner’s broken marriage, his daughter’s broken marriage. Nothing to be shocked or surprised about nowadays.

Being forcibly slowed down, I had time to listen. He wanted to share the joy that, despite all of this, his daughter was about to give birth and make him a grandfather.

After being released from hospital, my enforced convalescence (no strenuous exercise, not even driving) would mean that I could devote time to reading and preparing to come to the U.S.

But I also had a small worry: a troublesome wisdom tooth that needed to come out and that very inconveniently suddenly flared up. I decided to call the dental surgeon, half expecting an appointment that would have compromised (yet again) my journey. I couldn’t believe that they called me the next day for the operation, which gave me plenty of time to recover before crossing the ocean.

I had allowed myself to slow down, to live the Word of Life well, and felt an answer from God in being able to do everything in good time.

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