A Window, A Prayer and Holy Medicine
The mini paper cup that held the meds took on a new dimension as she closed her eyes in prayer
By Mark Moore, RN
St. Joseph Medical Center
“Chow ba” (greetings honored elder woman), I said as I bowed my head, looking downward respectfully. The elderly Vietnamese lady looked up with surprise, then nodded in acknowledgement, as though a window had been opened without her knowing. With a few words, we were really in the same room, a shared space of an ancient culture.
As I produced by stethoscope, she sat upright with customary formality, breathing deeply. Everything was in a state of balance; there were not excesses of emotion or gesture. A cup of tea lay before her.
I checked her pulses, and remembered that some physicians of the East use that assessment alone as the main diagnostic tool. Perhaps she thought of that tradition, too, as I gently palpated her life force.
While checking her radial pulse, I noticed a dainty piece of jewelry laced around her waist. I produced a broad smile of recognition and looked warmly into her eyes. She understood that I knew and appreciated that it was a rosary bracelet. I showed her my crucifix on a chain around my neck and she nodded.
Later, I returned with her tablets of medicine. The mini paper cup that held the meds took on a new dimension as she closed her eyes in prayer. She signed herself with the cross, invoking the Holy Trinity, and took her pills with a reverence I’d never seen before.
I realized that I was witnessing a holy moment. She had sacramentalized the often-dreaded routine of swallowing pills. This led me to pray, inquiring of our Lord, “What if everyone was so focused in submission to their health?”