Room 113 is close to the nursing station and thus there is always chatter. Aids, CNA’s and one nurse are always discussing, complaining, joking or laughing. Patients are calling, yelling or have TV’s blaring. James motorizes his wheelchair with his well-worn hands, calling out to all “I love you!” And then there is the faint whisper of Christmas carols reminding all who stop to listen that this, in fact, is Christmas Eve.
Does the noise every stop? I’m not sure. At least during the day, it does not stop, and according to my sister, the occupant of room 113, the chatter of the staff doesn’t stop at night either.
But this is Christmas Eve. My sister is snoring as she tries to take an afternoon siesta, and I, seeking to be quiet, write while gently rolling back-and-forth in her wheelchair. Christmas Eve…what difference does it make? Does anyone who is strolling, yelling, talking, maybe even singing in the hall really care that this night is intended to have special meaning? Does it make any difference to anyone? Does it quiet anyone, even for a brief moment? I don’t think so.
I well remember standing in the square before The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Wave after wave of noisy, irreverent tourist flooded through the square with venders calling out their wares, hoping for a sale. No quiet there, no stillness to meditate, to pray, to think. Maybe the square near The Church of the Nativity is no different than the hallway in front of room 113. But I still ask, “What difference does this night make?”
In this age of political warfare, in this age of dehumanizing homelessness, in this age of heartlessness in immigration policies and practices, and in this age of the greedy rape of our land, I ask the question, “What difference does Christmas make?” Yes, I ask the question.
A few rooms down from 113 there is a man, a patient who frequently cries out “Someone help! Someone help me, please!” Does he actually need help? In reality most of the time he does not need anything physically. He does not need food. He does not need help to go the bathroom. He does not need medication. What he needs is SOMEONE! Someone who cares. Someone who is present. Someone who is willing to listen, to show compassion, show love. He needs SOMEONE.
That SOMEONE was born on this night nearly 2,000 years ago and is born in us today. Christ Jesus is the difference, the meaning of this night. Christ Jesus is the One who is always with us, no matter what we face.