She must have been at least 198 years old when I met her. We spent approximately four minutes together and decades later her resiliency still inspires me. I was 16 years old and working as a Certified Nurses Aide at St. Peter’s Hospital, Olympia, Washington, a fact that has lead to countless questions about what the hell the adults in my life were thinking! Nonetheless, there I was one morning entering the room of an elderly woman. I offered the usual obligatory and vacant, yet cheery “good morning.” The old dear must have weighed 70 pounds soaking wet, had skin like parchment, looked more fragile than a porcelain doll, and had the radiant smile of an angel. She was immobile and propped up with pillows that held her frail body in an upright position. Again I automatically asked a robotic, “How are you today” without particularly requiring a real answer. Her response came at me like a Jedi Light Saber snapping me out of my coma, “I’m absolutely wonderful, thank you,” she beamed, “I took in some sun today and I’m doing much, much better.”

Standing at the foot of her bed in the dismal hollow of an antiseptic room I thought she must have dementia because her health condition guaranteed there was absolutely no possible way she could have gone outdoors into the sunlight. She beckoned me to come closer and said, “Look. See?” Her delicate arm was slowly and deliberately moving a translucent hand. “Look. See?” she repeated, her eyes bright and face illuminated. It took me a moment to understand what she was showing me. On the top of her stark-white-hospital-bleached blanket a single ray of sunlight was streaming through venetian blinds creating a circle of light the size of a saucer on her covers. She positioned her hand in the circle of sunlight and closed her eyes. I humbly watched her embrace all that is warmth, light, life, hope, and joy. She accessed the entire essence of the sun by placing one liver speckled hand in the proximity of a single sunbeam as she indeed “took in some sun.” Far from dementia, she had the brilliant capacity to access the entire presence of the Sun with a small gesture and simple gratitude. I learned in that moment that Resiliency can last a lifetime and can be constructed from even the tiniest of light beams.

Resiliency 4 Today questions I am considering:

  • How many of us expose ourselves to micro bits of light in this dark world and not only call it enough, but name it glorious?
  • How can we, as resilient people, carry Jedi Light Sabers against despair and darkness?
  • What makes one person a Jedi and another a Dark Sith?
  • How do we anticipate, expect, and embrace radiance?
  • Isn’t there enough light to spare and share? Really? Isn’t there???
  • Question: Do you know what they call a tiny bit of light? Answer: Light.

Aloha, Dr. Vali

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