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How is one to describe another human being, to travel in and to express all the complexity and many faceted country that is another life? Then, how does one articulate the beauty of that humanity when one encounters it.

Let me use other words. How do you talk about sainthood? I don’t mean stained glass window sainthood, once real but now frozen in time, but the flesh and blood kind, the kind heard in a voice, felt in a touch, seen shining from a pair of eyes; a sainthood that does not judge but affirms, is rich not only in goodness but in humour, not merely in holiness but in laughter. Above all is totally natural, honest, real.

To get some exercise I avoid the elevator and walk up the stairs of the hospital. I turn, walk along the corridor and find the room, to be greeted by a smile  that I know has had to be brought up from a deep stubborn discomfort, as yet ominously nameless and resistant to initial healing.  I hear welcome and good humoured words that I know have had to be found in the face of understandable worry and fear. There is some chit-chat about the situation, about what is being done, what the doctor is saying, and what may be ahead in the next few days. Then we are chatting about others . I find myself being asked how I myself am. Eventually we link hands for a moment and commend one another to God.

As I leave I find myself thinking of the wonder of some human beings. In this half hour I have been as much visited as myself been visitor. In a deep sense I have been visited. We have experienced the mutuality that is each one’s gift to the other.  By being beside this bed I have been made receiver and now am the richer for that. At some level I have been healed.