“To see the world in a grain of sand”… so begins William Blake’s famous poem, written hundreds of years ago. What does it mean to see the world in a grain of sand? I think of the hidden beauty that lies within every phenomenon of nature – beauty that we so often miss, in the everyday busyness of our lives. We are stuck in traffic on the highway, yet beyond us is the beauty of the sunset. We may feel irritated by a child who doesn’t follow the rules, yet the miracle of that child’s curiosity may escape us.
The miraculous underlying the mundane – it is everywhere present, but we must look for it. In my years of work as as a doctor in Canada and India, those miraculous moments always bring me the greatest joy. One day last week, I looked into the eyes of a newborn baby, and tried to imagine that child’s future… Who will she love? What pain will she suffer? What dreams will she pursue? Later that day, I sat with an adolescent boy from a troubled background, who was having angry outbursts at school. I perceived the fear behind his anger, and commented on this compassionately. Our eyes met, and the vulnerable child behind the angry young man was suddenly revealed. It was a precious moment of connection, and I knew that he and I had established a relationship.
In my work in India, I experienced those miraculous moments even before I could understand the language. One day, a woman wearing a tattered sari came to the hospital carrying her baby in her arms. I recognized her - my husband Pradeep had treated the child for pneumonia a week earlier. Because the baby had been so ill, my husband asked her to come for a follow-up visit. The baby’s mother approached Pradeep with great hesitation, anxiety etched in every line of her body. Pradeep examined the baby, and then spoke to the mother in a reassuring tone. The woman visibly relaxed, relief flooding her face. As she turned to leave the examining room, our eyes met. We smiled at each other, sharing her joy at the baby’s recovery. It was a moment of communication beyond words, a moment of the miraculous within the mundane.