Sometimes I have days begin so perfectly that I measure them as Mary Poppins so often did,
” Practically perfect in every way.”

My perfect day began a few weeks ago when my teenage son actually got ready for school
on time – and – without giving me any lip.

The effect was a perfect snowball — for being ready on time usually meant leaving on time.
Leaving on time meant I had the perfect commute without a single traffic delay. No delay meant that I was awarded the perfect shaded parking spot.

From the parking lot, I found the green man in the crosswalk signal beckoning me safely into the hospital. Overwhelmed with such perfect synchronicity, my head began filling with the syrupy soundtrack of “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

When my day starts out this perfect, I like to reward myself with hot chocolate. It was the perfect cup served with a greeting as sweet as the chocolate itself – “Chaplain, is that a new tie? Very cool!”

On the go with the chocolate, I found an elevator waiting to shuttle me non-stop to my third floor office where I found that my co-worker had already unlocked the doors and booted our computer.

After reading emails from two appreciative readers — whose taste in columnists seemed perfect — I left my office for a visit on the pediatric floor with my 5-year-old friend, Opal.

Dressed in street clothes, Opal was awaiting discharge orders and greeted me with the largest smile ever pasted on such a small face.

“Swing me, swing me,” she said, seizing my fingers with a full-handed grip. As we swung, I caught a glimpse of two nurses giving us one of those “aren’t they perfectly cute!” smiles.

As Opal’s doctor arrived, I said my goodbyes to pediatrics and wandered off toward Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). I wondered — “Why can’t every day be as perfect as this one?”

In the PICU I found the mother of the 13-year-old boy named Alex whose parents had learned on a not-so-perfect Mother’s Day of the return of their son’s cancer. As we visited outside his room, an alarm suddenly called mom back to her son’s bedside. I followed.

As she glanced at the blood oxygen indicator and noticed the levels falling dangerously low, she expressed a motherly command: “Breathe. Just Breathe. Take a deep breath.”

After watching her son’s chest rise and fall a few times, the mom watched the indicator return to normal levels. “Take one more,” she added from a deep exhale she hoped he would mimic. Then placing an approving hand on his forehead she pronounced, “There, that’s perfect. Just perfect.”

Suddenly, the syrupy ‘Beautiful Morning’ soundtrack vanished from my head and replaced with a new song — “Holy, Holy, Holy”– for I was standing in the presence of an expression of perfect and holy love.

That experience instantly redefined my understanding of a “perfect” day. Who was I kidding? There was nothing in my life that had me singing in the rain – there was no rain in my life, only sunshine, with not even a slow elevator to mar my morning.

Yet, here was a family in a downpour of anguish, huddled together and trying to keep each other warm – their hearts full of a love that transformed all who witnessed it. It humbled me to be a part of it, to be in the presence of such holy love.

It seems to me that a “perfect day” needn’t be defined by events that happen or don’t happen. Nope. “Perfect” is about knowing a kind of love that this young man knew — a kind of love that is there for him no matter what, there to help him in the most basic things, there to love him through the best and the
worst parts of his life.

May we all be so “lucky” as to so perfectly share in such holy love.

Author’s note: Alex passed away on July 3, 2003.