The woman suddenly turned and faced me as we waited for the hospital elevator together. She looked me square in the eye, and said proudly, “Today marks five years for me as a cancer survivor!” Both of us were there visiting family members. “I’m thankful everyday I live that I was blessed with cancer, she added.” I looked at her quizzically, so she went on to explain, “I’m 72 years old, and cancer taught me how to live. I never miss an opportunity to reach out to someone with God’s love.” And with that comment, she smiled and hurried off the elevator.
Then it hit me. The person she had just “reached out to with God’s love” that morning was me. I’m the one whose path she crossed–and she didn’t miss the opportunity to let her joy spill over to me.
I’ve thought about that woman several times since our brief encounter yesterday. I don’t know her name. Can’t tell you what she looked like, except that she had blondish hair, a big smile, a Christmas-y sweater, and sturdy looking shoes. But what I can tell you is that she literally radiated with life. It sounds a little cliche, but I can’t think of a better way to describe her. She’s like the person described in Isaiah 50:4 who was always ready with “a word to sustain the weary.”
I found myself calculating her age when she got cancer…67. And how at a time in life when most folks are winding down, this woman seemed to be winding back up. She would say that cancer was the “blessing” that caused her to pause. Reevaluate life. Rejoice at a second chance. But mostly, it inspired her to be on the lookout for people in need of God’s touch everywhere she went. So glad I got to be one of them.