Blue Highways Journey – Episode 27 – Sympathetic

Adam Steele had wanted this message to help those in his organization work through the tough times many were experiencing.  A bad economy, some weather disasters, and a number of health setbacks seemed to be impacting overall employee morale. He decided to share the story of David, a young man he met on one of his journeys. He met David at a small community hospital.

David had always been a difficult child. He was diagnosed as having attention deficit issues. He would often act out in school and cause disturbances. He also had an eidetic memory in which he could remember  exact details from a very short visual exposure. David was also a very gifted artist but refused to take art classes because he didn’t like the discipline imposed by the art teachers.

David was on the verge of a permanent suspension from high school but was given one last chance.  He was required to do 20 hours/week of volunteer service at the hospital.

When David checked in at the volunteer desk, he would be given an assignment. Once the assignment was completed, he was told to return to the volunteer desk. He never returned. What he did instead was roam the halls of the hospital. When he was touched by a situation, he would retrieve his art supplies from his book bag and draw what he had seen. His drawings captured the scene from memory, but they also conveyed a sympathetic sense of the concern for the patient and family. The drawings were very emotional but also conveyed a sense of hopefulness.

When the drawings were done, David would slip into the patient’s room and hand the family the drawing. He would then slip out and continue his journey through the hospital. During his time in the hospital, he would repeat this experience several times.

After a few days of his volunteer service, David was discovered. Actually, word had quickly gone around the hospital of the remarkable drawings and the wonderful impact they had on patients and their families. But no one knew they came from David. On his third day at the hospital, David was “caught”. Rather than being punished, David was told that his volunteer service was to continue with the drawings. The hospital wanted to hire David, but he refused. They wanted to publicize the drawings, but he refused. He wanted to continue to draw from the heart as situations called to him.

Adam added a personal message at the end of the story:

We all show sympathy in different ways. David had a special gift for showing sympathy. Some of us are good at showing sympathy with words on paper. Others are better with words spoken. For some, it may be hugs or tears.” 

            “It is surprising that showing sympathy is so hard to do for some of us. We feel that we need to be perfect in how we show sympathy. We don’t feel comfortable in expressing ourselves. An act of sympathy doesn’t need to be perfect or scripted. It should be simply a heart-felt human emotion. Without a genuine concern for others, our ability to show sympathy will always be difficult. For all of his flaws, David had a genuine heart which he was to show with his drawings.”

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“Sit with me, and I’ll never be alone.
Hold my hand, and I’ll never feel alone.

Cry with me, and I’ll never suffer alone.”
– Richelle Goodrich (inspirational author)

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