All Aboard!

by Joanie Butman

This week was my six-month checkup at Sloane Kettering in NYC. I don’t dread it as some might because I find it very peaceful there and always meet interesting people in the waiting room—and believe me, there is a lot of waiting involved with cancer. Waiting for results, waiting for doctors, waiting for healing. It’s something I’ve gotten very good at - my own Olympic event of sorts. Even so, there are a lot of other things I would rather have been doing on a beautiful summer day as well as a long to-do list to get my son ready to leave for a two-week trip the next day.

I boarded the train impatient to get this over with so I could get on with life in more ways than one. The conductor arrived to take my ticket and I was surprised to recognize him as a soccer parent I’ve always enjoyed chatting with on the sidelines. I was about to discover why. We exchanged small talk for a while; then he turned to the little boy sitting across the aisle and began chatting with him. He clicked out a smiley face on our ticket stubs and then, to my surprise, he proceeded to put on a show. His hat flew off his head and landed on the seat next to me. He explained to the youngster that the only thing to do when his hat acts up like that is to coax it back on with music. He pulled out a harmonica and began playing. When that didn’t work, three juggling balls appeared out of thin air as he ably tossed them around and into the wayward hat. The little boy was mesmerized, and I was grinning ear-to-ear having forgotten where I was going or how much I needed to do before tomorrow. I felt like a muggle on the Hogwarts Express witnessing a bit a magic.

By this point, the hat was eager to return to its perch on top of his head. The conductor clicked his heels and bid farewell to the boy then looked my way, tipped his hat to me and said, “That was for you too.” I left the train hearing his cheerful voice on the intercom wishing us all to “Have a great day!” This was certainly an excellent start. It was almost as if he knew I needed a giggle – which was his gift to me. I kept that smiley face ticket with me the rest of the day using it as a bookmark, and every time I looked at it I couldn’t help but grin. That smiley face was a Godwink – a heavenly reminder that He’s got my back always.

As I said, I’ve enjoyed Mr. D’s company on the sidelines, but this was different. He was in his element. I admired the charm and enthusiasm with which he approached his job and the obvious joy he derived from it which bubbled over onto everyone in his vicinity. Joy is effervescent. It is the champaign of life, but it is our choice to pop our internal cork and share it with those around us. My sideline acquaintance didn’t know where I was going or what was on my mind. It didn’t matter. Can’t we all use a shot of joy poured into our day regardless of what is going on in our lives?

The reason I share the story is to illustrate the importance of choosing to do what you love and/or choosing to love what you do.

Being around someone joyful is contagious. You can’t help but smile. Mr. D. could be an excellent conductor without the performance, but he did something that far exceeded his job description - something of even greater value. He left that young boy and me a little lighter for having met him. What a blessing.

As far as my checkup goes, it was yet another “wait and watch” diagnosis. It reminded me of the lyrics from Brandon Heath’s Wait and See.

There is hope for me yet

Because God won't forget

All the plans he's made for me

I have to wait and see

He's not finished with me yet

And I firmly believe that.

Click on Image below to listen to Wait and See.