The Soul Sees

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He was tall and very thin. He wore huge aviator frame glasses, and his brown hair was cut in a…uhmmm…mullet

A mullet, the mean little voice in my head crows. A. mullet. Do you think --

But I don’t listen to the mean little voice. Not today. The man with the mullet is in an awkward position — bending his angular frame forward to hold the elevator door open BUT ALSO trying to keep his body flattened against the inside so that a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair can enter.

After the wheelchair is in, Mullet Man continues to hold the elevator door so a cheerful-looking nurse hustling down the hallway can join the group, and then holds it longer yet so a thin woman clutching a Gucci purse can wiggle in.

And me. The man holds the elevator door for me, too. I slip in and flatten myself against the elevator wall across from the man.

“Thank you,” I murmur. 

He smiles, and there’s a light in his eyes. Something about the man’s smile makes me feel thank you isn’t quite enough. 

“We…appreciate you,” I add awkwardly.

“Why, yes. Yes, we do,” the nurse pipes in. She slips her phone into the pocket of her soft blue scrubs and smiles down at the man in the wheelchair. She leans down, just a little, to make eye contact.

“How are we feeling today, sir?” she asks brightly. 

He’s not HER patient, mind you…he’s just A patient. But the nurse looks as if she really does care how the man is feeling.

“Doin’ alright,” the man says softly. His wife pats him on his shoulder from her place behind the wheelchair.

It feels Special in that elevator. Like maybe God is there too. I know all about Random God Sightings. I wrote a book about them. So I look at Mullet Man, and then the nurse. Which one is it? I ask myself.

But then, JUST THEN, we arrive at the third floor.

I slip out of the elevator and into the world of bodies-that-don’t-move-properly. The world of arm slings and knee braces and crutches. Some people have metal cage-like contraptions on their arms or legs; and braving a peek, I can see that the steel pins connected to the cages go through the skin and into the bones the skin hides from view. 

This is the world of limping and quiet groaning. A world where friends help friends get out of chairs, children carry purses for mothers, and husbands go in search of Diet Coke for wives who can’t. Spouses fill out forms for partners who are in pain, middle-schoolers push Grandma’s wheelchair, and a care coordinator moves through the room, offering help to seniors trying to fill out their medical information on hospital iPads.

As I look over the people I see in the waiting room, I think, How kind we are when we can see the injury.

But there are injuries that we can’t see, aren’t there?

Or are there?

The feeling of God being in that elevator is with me still, and under its influence, my thoughts suddenly begin to pick up speed.

We assume that we can’t see the injuries a person carries inside, but…

Maybe we can.

After all, we’re not just humans — we’re souls. And souls see what human eyes sometimes miss. A soul recognizes a forced smile when she sees one. A soul notices jaw muscles tightening or an averted gaze. Fingers curling into a palm, or hands moving restlessly about the face.

A soul can hear things too — the jagged edges around a hollow laugh, the disciplined intonations of false bravado, and the dreary monotone of flat responses.

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

A soul gets intuitive feelings sometimes too…and on Very Good Days, angels breathe Good Guidance into a soul’s very being.

So maybe we CAN discern injuries of the heart, of the mind, of the spirit. 

Maybe we’re just lazy or in too much of a hurry to notice. (Did I say we? Oh. Sorry. I meant me. Maybe I’m just lazy or in too much of a hurry.) Maybe if we slow down long enough to look at each other instead of our cell phones, we might see it.

So maybe let’s slow down today, my friends.
Let’s look at the faces in our world.
Let’s make eye contact. 
Let’s remember that we’re souls,
and let’s try to see what souls see.

And let’s be kind to everyone.
Just in case.