There are sacred places everywhere. They are on mountain tops, where people have built temples. They are inside natural caves, where, again, people have built temples. They are in the forests, where people have built spiritual retreats. However, the most sacred places of all exist in the large cities and many people have not even noticed this. We just take these spiritual places for granted, even though they are an important of our lives.
I visited one such sacred place when my son was born. It was called, most appropriately, Holy Family Hospital. The sisters working there were like angels sent from heaven, and they really took care of my wife when she was there for three days, offering selfless service. The doctors there were like God’s own helpers. My role was mostly passive, but I could feel the positive vibrations of that holiest of holy places. We experienced the same thing, a few years later, when my daughter was born in the same sacred space. Both times, I felt intense peace within my soul, as though angels were talking to me.
I visited a sacred place again,in India, when I had an accident, and my right arm was fractured. The doctors at this hospital did a wonderful job with surgery, putting in a rod and some screws to hold my arm together. The sisters there looked after me with so much love and care, as though I was a part of their family. I am sure they did the same thing with the next patient who came in. During this hospital stay, I had deep spiritual insights and, somehow, felt connected to the entire world from my little hospital room.
I found many such sacred spots in Canada during my life’s journey. I had to visit the Ottawa Civic hospital for a few days for some major surgery on my carotid artery. After the operation, I was in the ICU for a day or so, and the sister who looked after was, again, an angel directly descended from heaven. She was full of empathy and grace, acting as if I mattered a lot to her. The hospital had set the temperature a bit low, to minimize infections. When I complained about this, she gave me a warm blanket, pre-heated in an oven. It felt like heaven on earth. If I had stayed another day in the ICU, I would have fallen in love with this lady. Maybe, this is the reason why they don’t keep patients for too long in the ICU.
Still, it was a relief to go home after a few days, because you can live in a sacred spot only for so long. Plus, we have to make room for others.
As I was being wheeled out of the ICU, I noticed the next patient being wheeled in. My compassionate nurse immediately switched her smile, and her compassion, to the new arrival. This is indeed the way of the world.
I got to know quite a bit more about this sacred space when my mother-in-law was hospitalized for two weeks. The doctors and the nurses knew that this was her last visit but still, they were very compassionate towards her. I noticed that the nurses worked very hard, a fifteen hour workday was quite normal for them, but they still always put on a cheerful smile and had a kind word for everybody. There was a prayer room in the hospital, but I felt it was totally unnecessary, the entire building was a prayer room for all of us.
Om Swami ji talks about random acts of kindness and self-less service to others. He emphasizes that these things are even more important than meditation practices. I noticed these things were present every day at the hospital. Strangers helped each other out, sometimes with just a kind word or two. The hospital staff was doing selfless service every day of the week. Many ordinary people even volunteered their time at the time at the hospital, doing all kinds of non-medical tasks. Some drove patients to the hospital, some helped people find their way around the services, a few even worked in the reception. It takes a lot of guts to work as a volunteer in such a tough environment, but people do it anyway in Canada.
Nowadays, we are still in the grip of a pandemic and the medical system is over-strained in many parts of the world. It is a great time to set side our differences, put on our charitable hats and help the medical system in any way we can. If nothing else, we can give a big shout-out to the brave men and women who work long hours in the hospital system, risking their own lives every day of the week for the welfare of others.