Joy Comes to Those Determined to Pursue It
In Spite of Their Circumstances
A good reminder of this is G.W. Target’s “The Window,” which tells the story of two men, both seriously ill, who occupied the same small hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour every afternoon to help drain the fluid in his lungs. His bed was next to the window. The other man had to lay flat on his back at all times.
The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation. And every afternoon when the man by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one-hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the outside world.
The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake, the man said. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Lovers walked arm in arm amid flowers of every color. Grand old trees graced the landscape and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.
One warm afternoon the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band he could see it in his mind’s eye. Unexpectedly, an alien thought entered his head: Why should he have all the pleasure of seeing everything while I never get to see anything? It didn’t seem fair.
As the thought fermented the man felt ashamed at first. But as the days passed and he missed seeing more and more sites, his envy eroded into resentment and soon turned him sour. He began to brood, and he found he was unable to sleep. HE should be by the window!
Late one night as he lay staring at the ceiling, the man by the window began to cough. He was choking on the fluid in his lungs. The other man watched in the dimly lit room as the struggling man by the window groped for the button to call for help. Listening from across the room, he never moved, never pushed his own button which would have brought the nurse running. In less than five minutes the coughing and choking stopped, along with the sound of breathing. Now there was only silence.
The following morning the day nurse arrived to bring water for the day. When she found the lifeless body of the man by the window, she was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take him away—no words, no fuss. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make this happen. After making him comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look. Finally, he would have the joy of seeing it for himself. He strained to look out the window beside the bed.
It faced a blank wall.
The pursuit of happiness is a matter of choice. It is not a gift that comes delivered to our door each morning, nor does it come through the window. Each of us must decide what we see through life’s windows!
See you in church!