Building tiny altars.

Triage is where people wait. Behind the double door is the Emergency Department, with rooms and monitors and staff and expertise and hope and answers. This side of the double door is uncertainty and pain and fear and chairs spread apart.

In the old days, there was a Bunn coffee maker, tended by the coworkers at the desk. Then there was a machine that made a cup at a time, outsourcing the production and decisions to the people with uncertain and pain and fear. 

And then everything changed. Visitors were gone, people sat in the chairs briefly, on their way back to the empty rooms and then up to the floor or out with provisional answers. 

Eventually, visitors came back, one at a time, with green wrist bands. The coffee counter, however, stayed empty. 

Until the other day. I walked through triage on my way to somewhere else. I looked at the coffee counter. And discovered that someone had built a tiny altar. Not to coffee. But to courage. 

When something significant happened in the Old Testament journey with God, people would make a pile of stones. They served as acknowledgements that something significant had happened. They served as personal reminders for those involved that something happened. And they served as conversation starters for subsequent generations. “What do these stones mean to you,” God said that future generations would say of the pile of stones at the edge of the Jordan. 

I know nothing of the person who left this stone in triage. I don’t know whether it’s an acknowledgement, a reminder, or a conversation starter. I do know that when I walked past, I was encouraged.