"I could have been in a location that has no electricity. I felt so primitive. But having no TV or no internet was really liberating. I actually enjoyed that."
So said the person staffing a public facility's information desk. I had stopped there to ask for directions and ended up engaging in a longer conversation.
"Getting hit by a car wasn't pleasant in any way, as I ended up having several surgeries on my leg. But I can say that the entire experience was truly a blessing. No one believes that I feel this way, but I really do."
We talked about that in conjunction with the directions she gave me. When she mentioned in her directions that I should go past the hospital, that jogged her memory about the leg surgery experience.
"To this day, even though three surgeries were killer painful and I wouldn't wish that convalescence on anyone, I'm a better person for enduring all of it."
"Why didn't you have electricity?" I asked.
"Oh, that was because I wasn't able to return to my own place due to all the steps in my house, so I stayed at my sister's house in between the surgeries. I used a spare bedroom in the back of her house, which was actually a small converted storage room. There was no electricity feed in there and only a battery-operated light on the wall. I had to stay in that room day after day until I could get around on my own. There was no TV to watch and no computer with internet. When I finally recovered enough to return to my home, I was mentally and physically a new person. That time of peace and quiet ended up being a natural retreat for me. What a blessing."
Just then a honking car outside the building brought us both back to reality. "Sounds like I'm headed out to the real world of busy-ness," I said.
She responded, "Indeed you are. Now don't forget to go past the hospital."
[Nancy Linenkugel is a Sylvania Franciscan sister and chair of the department of Health Services Administration at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio.]
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