1. Edwards, Jennifer Lobo

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Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers-being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2, AMP)

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Who wants to hear about stroke? Nobody! It's easier to ignore and hope it never happens to you.


I had been asked by my workplace to provide stroke awareness information at a nearby university's health fair. During the hour-long drive, I had plenty of time to grumble over wasting my time. I was burnt out and tired. When I pulled into the university parking lot, friendly students aided by unloading my vehicle and carrying my supplies. A bit of my grumpiness wore off, and I began organizing the display with literature related to stroke, ensuring that my organization's logo was prominent. As I finished, a nursing instructor stopped to inquire if I had everything that was needed. Why is everyone being so nice? Can't they let me gripe in peace?


I assured her that everything was in place and mentioned how helpful the students were. Glancing at the organization's logo, she began reminiscing. She noted that her first job was working for a physician group, mentioning them by name. My eyes widened, as I told her that my father was one of those physicians, but that he passed away several years ago. Tears welled as she told how my father had encouraged her to apply to nursing school and had, upon acceptance, purchased her books. She said he was influential in her career. Her kind words lifted a little more of my irritability.


It wasn't long before a young lady asked if I remembered her. I apologized and noted that although she looked familiar, I could not place her. She understood but wanted to thank me for being helpful when her father was a stroke patient the previous year. She praised our program and expressed gratitude for kindness and the treatment that was provided to her family during this difficult time.


As the day progressed, I handed out literature about stroke risk factors and the warning signs of stroke. Although some approached the booth, others avoided contact with my table-free ink pens sometimes aren't enough to reel in interest. Fear and stigma often keep people on the other side of the aisle. As I mused why I was grumpy earlier, an elderly lady using a cane hobbled toward my table. Again the logo elicited a positive response. She related a story of her recent visit to our hospital.


This woman had never been to the facility, and it was larger than she had imagined. At the information desk, she was provided the room number of her friend. After wandering for several minutes, she felt lost and turned around when an angel appeared. A staff member approached and asked if she needed help. The lady explained her dilemma and the angel, with a smile on her face, escorted her to her friend's room. She turned back to thank her angel, only to find that she was gone. The elderly visitor explained that her experience left an indelible mark, and she thinks fondly of the facility when she hears its name or sees its logo. Before she left, she gently took my hand and sincerely thanked me for what we do.


Heading home, I felt extremely proud, yet utterly ashamed. I had crossed paths with three individuals, within a few hours, whose lives had been impacted positively by the hospital where I work. Each noted wonderful things about the facility and what is accomplished there. Was it a coincidence? Maybe, but I don't think so. Just as the elderly woman exclaimed that an angel appeared when she most needed one, I think I too experienced an angelic visit. Burnout was making me so negative that I had lost sight of why I went into nursing in the first place. Brief encounters with gracious strangers from events in my past reminded me of how blessed I am to help others. Just when I needed an angel the most, not one, but three appeared.