The rain in the poem represents the noise of the world. Inside the rain's pause lies the sound of our breath. Shared, this breathing marks an encounter with the air that can become sacred.
The touch of a loving caregiver cannot be named. It can only be experienced in the deepest place in our soul.
As lovers know, true intimacy transcends both words and our senses.
How do we discover we are alive? We feel the beating of our hearts, see our reflection in the face of a pond, determine our existence by the vibrations our lives make amid the energy of this earth.
How do we encounter another in our human experiences? We breathe our mother's scent, we see other forms we call people, hear voices, taste food together.
And there is touch.
Patients are touched in ways unlike any other encounter.
The very intimacy of caregiver's encounters can make touching as demeaning as a whip or as illuminating as holy light.
Walk in the door of any hospital or have yourself wheeled into a hospice or nursing home and you will acquire this interesting label - "patient."
Naming you this will bring you attention but we all know this classification doesn't guarantee humane treatment.
Healthcare organizations are launching initiatives to evaluate what they call "the patient experience." There are seminars, courses and lectures on the subject.
Isn't it really the human experience we are addressing?
Look at the descriptors applied to us across our lives and how they affect our journey: baby, child, teenager, adult, senior adult. If we hang on, we are called elderly.
Think of how you feel when one or more of these labels is applied to you: student, teacher, wife, mother, father, brother, son, husband, wife, employer and employee. Customer. Host. Caregiver.
We classify each other as a way of sorting, of trying to determine how to encounter each other.
Every label, name or category triggers a way of thinking.
Yet, there is only one guiding principle that matters.
Honoring the human experience means seeing beyond names, diagnoses and ages. We can only see what is sacred with the eyes of our souls.