Seeking a Perfect Day?
By Norris Burkes
-- Sometimes I have days begin so perfectly that I measure them as Mary Poppins
so often did, "Practically perfect in every way."
My perfect day began a few weeks ago when my teenage son actually got ready
for school on time - and - without giving me any lip.
The effect was a perfect snowball -- for being ready on time usually meant
leaving on time. Leaving on time meant I had the perfect commute without a
single traffic delay. No delay meant that I was awarded the perfect shaded
From the parking lot, I found the green man in the crosswalk signal beckoning
me safely into the hospital. Overwhelmed with such perfect synchronicity,
my head began filling with the syrupy soundtrack of "Oh, What a Beautiful
When my day starts out this perfect, I like to reward myself with hot chocolate.
It was the perfect cup served with a greeting as sweet as the chocolate itself
- "Chaplain, is that a new tie? Very cool!"
On the go with the hot chocolate, I found an elevator waiting to shuttle
me non-stop to my third floor office where I found that my co-worker had already
unlocked the doors and booted our computer.
After reading emails from two appreciative readers -- whose taste in columnists
seemed perfect -- I left my office for a visit on the pediatric floor with
my 5-year-old friend, Opal.
Dressed in street clothes, Opal was awaiting discharge orders and greeted
me with the largest smile ever pasted on such a small face.
"Swing me, swing me," she said, seizing my fingers with a full-handed grip.
As we swung, I caught a glimpse of two nurses giving us one of those "aren't
they perfectly cute!" smiles.
As Opal's doctor arrived, I said my good-byes to pediatrics and wandered
off toward Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I wondered, "Why can't every
day be as perfect as this one?"
In the PICU I found the dad of the 10-year-old girl whose parents had learned
on a not-so-perfect Mother's Day of the return of their daughter's cancer.
As we visited outside her room, an alarm suddenly called dad back to his daughter's
bedside. I followed.
As he glanced at the blood oxygen indicator and noticed the levels falling
dangerously low, he expressed a fatherly command: "Breathe. Just Breathe.
Take a deep breath."
After watching his daughter's chest rise and fall a few times, the dad watched
the indicator return to normal levels. "Take one more," he added from a deep
exhale he hoped she would mimic. Then placing an approving hand on her forehead
he pronounced, "There, that's perfect. Just perfect."
Suddenly, the syrupy 'Beautiful Morning' soundtrack vanished from my head
and replaced with a new song -- "Holy, Holy, Holy" -- for I was standing in
the presence of an expression of perfect and holy love.
That experience instantly redefined my understanding of a "perfect" day.
Who was I kidding? There was nothing in my life that had me singing in the
rain - there was no rain in my life, only sunshine, with not even a slow elevator
to mar my morning.
Yet, here was a family in a downpour of anguish, huddled together and trying
to keep each other warm - their hearts full of a love that transformed all
who witnessed it. It humbled me to be a part of it, to be in the presence
of such holy love.
It seems to me that a "perfect day" need not be defined by events that happen
or don't happen. Nope. "Perfect" is about knowing a kind of love that this
little girl knew -- a kind of love that is there for her no matter what, there
to help her in the most basic things, there to love her through the best and
the worst parts of her life.
What a perfect reminder for an imperfect man like me. May we all be so "lucky"
as to so perfectly share in such holy love.
For more information about Norris Burkes please log onto his website at
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