by Jeannie Beck

Every seat in the hospital's emergency room was filled and many people were standing against walls and in doorways bleeding, moaning, coughing and crying.  Everyone was begging, audibly or silently, for relief;  hoping it would come in time, but they had to wait for the clean white-coated angels in stethoscopes to end their suffering.  I was dazed and staring at a coffee stain on the floor that had fantastically assumed the shape of a raven.  I didn't want to look at the man a few seats down from me who was pressing a bloody rag around the base of a metal rod stuck through one arm.  
I heard a kindly voice speaking to a child and lifted my gaze from the raven.  An elderly man with a broom and a light in his eyes had suddenly appeared among the mayhem.  He stood smiling in front of the child and handed him a trinket. The distraction calmed the child's cries to something more resembling hiccups as he stretched out his tiny hand to accept the toy.  The old man meandered along with his broom, mostly unnoticed through the crowd of pain, occasionally making gentle eye contact as he lightly touched a shoulder or offered a friendly nod while he worked his way around the room.
I watched him offering soft words, various palm-sized gifts- perhaps a pack of gum- different things for different people- to those who were able to lift themselves away from their pain long enough to look up.  He walked along  the rows of seats in the crowded room until he eventually came before me.  I thought what he was doing was pretty amazing but I wasn't in any mood to be part of it so I gave him a weak smile and glanced away.  He remained in place so I felt obligated to look back and give him another- perhaps a little less weak of a smile. 
 "I'm going to give you one of the greatest messages you'll ever receive,"  he said.  "It's the best message I have.  Now, don't forget."  I smiled half-heartedly, just to be nice, and waited as he fumbled through his pockets.  He pulled out a pen and a scrap of paper and wrote my mesage without pausing.  I reached for the scrap as he waited for me to read, "We-Us-Ours."  I looked into his eyes, wondering what he was getting at.  "Remember this,"  he said.  "Most of the world lives with 'I-me-mine,'  but love doesn't get old- only the people who haven't learned this secret."
I looked down at the scrap of paper and read the message several times.  My worries and prayers had been soley focused upon my daughter in another room until I'd noticed the old man.  When I looked up he'd apparently slipped away through one of the doors.  I read the message again. Yeah, but I've lived outside the grace and mercy of inclusion.  It seemed I was always stumbling my fearful way through every crisis alone.  I realized it was hard for me to even make eye contact with others.  I'd been abandoned when times were hard by the people I loved.  Selfishness and greed not only destroyed personal relationships but threatened our collective survival as humanity.  Caring about others was dangerous.
What if, I began to wonder through my fatigue, I took this We-Us-Ours message as some kind of miraculous heads-up from the universe?  What if I pretended this man was an angel and his message was vital information instead of just a striking arrangement of inclusive pronouns given to me by a trippy janitor? 
Just like earlier, I could see a coffee stain or a raven.  I might have seen the face of Christ if I'd of looked at the floor long enough.  I looked at the people around me.  Everyone here required help of some kind and all of us would have countless opportunities to leap over our own boundaries to extend ourselves to others; if only we had the courage.  Recoiling in pain and withdrawing in fear only separates us from what we're all seeking.  I could decide to limit the circle of who was allowed in or I could apply the concept of We-Us-Ours to a way of life.  I chose that day in the Emergency room.  We all choose every day whether we realize it or not.  
Every day of your life is a new opportunity to make the world a better place.  If you've been mistreated and left to die on the side of the road alone, all the more reason to do what you can to alleviate the suffering of others.  In the big picture we really are all connected.  We-Us-Ours.  Love never gets old.  It's the best message I have.