Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hospital Spirituality

If you are looking to reapproach how you daven or want to count the blessings in your life, here is a personal suggestion: visit a hospital - specifically the children's ward. Recently I spent 12 days at a hospital with my son - overlapping Yom Kippur - and it really was an eye opening spiritual experience that has reinvigorated my personal tefilla.

I was amazed by the hospital staff who shared comments and personal stories to lift parents and patients above their day to day struggles. The volunteers who brought sandwiches, toys, balloons, and of course blessing for a speedy recovery where daily reminders that hidden angels walk among us. The most amazing story, in my humble opinion, was the woman we met who spent 3 days over Rosh Hashanah watching a newborn baby. She was not this baby's parent, family, nor guardian. Sadly the birth mother abandoned the baby (who suffers from a heart defect) and the grandmother subsequently took responsibility for this child and the older two siblings and was spending the holiday with the these two toddlers.

This anonymous woman who came to the hospital for 3 days, away from her own family and out of the comfort of her own synagogue, to sit a vigil by a newborn in distress (emotional and physical) is remarkable in her silent service to others. She sat by the baby whispering prayers and kind words - and gave me and my wife tremendous strength to know that there are strong, giving people in this world.

This experience was a giant perspective check for me - and I think this is one of the key's to opening up the powerful experience of prayer. After meeting this woman, I realized that my son, although injured and in pain, was the healthiest kid on the floor; I immediately added prayers for the other families who were in greater need than we. It was one of the most unconventional High Holidays for me - but perhaps our tefillot have become too conventional - and that's why students are so turned off.

1 comment:

  1. I think there is a tension between the need to teach the conventions of davening and how to maximize the unconventional moments. How is the question?