Week One Reflection: The Good Samaritan
August 15, 2007
To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to the Good Samaritan sculpture. I’ve walked by it more times than I can count and hurried by it even more, and yet I would probably be hard-pressed to tell you exactly where it is, except for a vague “Oh, it’s over there, kind of near the dental school.” I think it may have even gotten to the point that I don’t even see it anymore; I’m too busy. I must have passed it this afternoon as I ran from the shuttle drop-off to the chapel, late for practice, but even now as I sit here and try to visualize it in my mind, I can only remember a few spots of muddy grass, two bees I nearly collide with, and the feel of the springy grass under my feet as I run. The last time I can recall actually noticing it was on the first day of school, when I gave Vicky a mini-tour of the campus as we walked to the tables near the dental school to wait for Gordon to pick us up. I stopped then, despite being overloaded with textbooks and folders and three bags full of papers and my personal effects. I saw the stones and the metal and the fence and the plants. I pointed. “And that’s the Good Samaritan sculpture.”
In that moment, aware that Vicky wasn’t familiar with the campus, I allowed myself to break through the haze of thoughts and ponderings and impossibly long lists of things to do that usually fill my mind in every waking moment. I noticed because I allowed myself to become aware; I noticed because I let myself see the world through someone else’s eyes.
I noticed because I took the time to pause and see.
As I sit here now, I almost start to wonder if that’s why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop to help the man lying helpless on the road. Maybe their minds were clouded with thoughts about the oppressive situation the Jews were in. Maybe they walked that road, deep in prayer, begging for God to show himself, for God to return to them, for God to save them, unaware that God was right there in front of their eyes, prostrate on the ground, bleeding and helpless. Maybe they were late for the evening sacrifices or their robe fitting or an examination of a house with mildew.
Maybe they, too, were too busy.
It’s a sobering thought. Too busy. Too busy to notice a dying man. Too busy to notice a work of art. Too busy to notice that my sister needs to hear an encouraging word from me. Too busy with labs and memorization and exams. Too busy to note the slight trembling in Mrs. Jane Doe’s voice as she tells me that really, everything is fine, and yes, isn’t it a lovely day out? Too busy with writing progress notes and pondering differential diagnoses and properly presenting the case to the attending to notice that what Mr. Smith over in room 380 really needs right now is someone to talk to, not someone to fix him.
Is that really the kind of doctor, no — doctor, daughter, sister, and friend — that I want to be? Too busy to perceive other people’s needs?
Is that what the story really means? To slow down, to stop, to listen, to notice, to understand?
If so, I just have to laugh at how God, knowing His creation’s tendency to forget, placed such a powerful lesson in the middle of the school as a constant reminder to never be too busy to help my neighbor.