“You Are My Brother,” Tambuli, Dec. 1990, 19
When he entered the hospital emergency room he was just another vagrant. His thin, hunched, and sore-ridden body slowly limped forward. His blind eyes stared blankly into a private world of darkness. The offensive smell from his poorly-clothed body was enough to discourage anyone from getting close to him. But, as a doctor, it was my job; so I invited him to come with me.
As I examined him he told me over and over that he was sick and needed help. After describing all of his symptoms he mumbled in rejection, “I don’t have a family or a home where I can sleep or eat.” I felt compassion for him—there were so many just like him. But what could I do?
As I treated him we talked about God. He understood the importance of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the need for them in our lives. However, he expressed difficulty understanding people who say they believe in God but neglect to show concern and compassion for their neighbor. He had acquaintances who claimed belief in God, but when he asked for food they wouldn’t give him any.
The one person who actually offered help was a woman almost as poor as he. She worked hard to help support her family by collecting and selling old clothing and rags. She had invited him to stay with them in her small tin-walled house. It was tiny, there were flies and rodents—but he would be welcome there.
We walked and talked together for three hours. Though his eyes were blinded his heart was not. Most of our conversation was about God. He asked, “Doctor, do you believe in God?” Quickly, I replied, “Yes I do, and you are my brother.” My reply came without thinking. But, as I said it, the words swelled in my heart and I realized that it was true!
As we talked, my love for him grew. I was in awe as I began to understand what it meant to be a brother. I experienced gratitude for the lesson I was learning from one whom, I thought, had nothing to give. I gave him of my time, and a little food, but he gave me understanding.