In my profession, I see a whole lot of skin. It’s not only the largest human organ, but it’s also the very first line of defense against infection. With that in mind, it’s an important part of my job to assess my patients from head to toe, looking for areas of potential compromise that could leave them vulnerable to illness.
So essentially, when I go to work, I get paid to look at naked people. I know it may sound strange to some, but I’ve gotten used to this. It’s just what I do.
What I’m NOT used to, though, is seeing naked people when I’m NOT at work. Like when I’m out in public.
A while back, my husband and I went to the beach. After we got tired of the crowds, we ventured into a nearby state park where things were more quiet and natural. No high-rise condos, no cars driving on the sand here. Nope. This beach is just waves, grasses, quiet fishermen, and sand dunes.
And apparently naked people. It turned out that things were a little more “natural” here than we’d thought.
Not everyone was naked, though, it was really only a few couples who stayed far away from everybody else, tucked up near the sand dunes. They kept to themselves and were really too far away to really be able to see much of anything other than that they had nothing on.
So, we just walked along down by the water, not letting their idea of a “natural beach” get in the way of ours. Until the naked old man came strolling by. Wow.
He had to have been in his mid 80’s and he was totally and completely naked. No hat, no shoes. Nothing. He was happily strolling along – right down the center of the beach – looking people straight in the eye, nodding and smiling his hello at everyone he passed, as if nothing at all was out of the ordinary here.
Now, like I said, I see a lot of skin at work. Even though it was crazy odd to see a naked old man outside of the hospital, just happily strolling down the beach – he didn’t really faze me that much. The extraordinary thing to me was following behind him.
She was there – back by about 20 feet or so. She was fully-clothed (complete with hat, socks, and shoes) and must’ve been about his same age.
She walked along, looking at the sea, looking at the sand. She never spoke to him, never really looked at anyone. She didn’t look embarrassed, offered no glances of apology. She was just there. Behind him. Nearby.
But very obviously with him.
I still think about this couple from time to time. I don’t know their story, but I’m so curious about them. It was apparent by the absolute absence of tan lines on his burnished skin, that this was not this man’s first naked beach stroll.
And, after what I see at the hospital, I would guess that this man is probably lost in the brokenness of dementia. I’ve experienced how difficult it is to deal with people who have this struggle. I’ve also watched time and time again what family members go through as they continue to love them through the stages of this terrible disease.
Maybe that’s why this couple was there that day. Maybe the only way she could get through each day with him was to let him have his naked beach stroll. I don’t know.
Regardless of their story, though, I’m still most impressed with this woman. It was clearly obvious by her personal choice of beachwear that she didn’t agree with what he was doing. Yet by her quiet nearness … it was also obvious that she was there for him regardless.
Not apologizing to anyone, not making excuses. Just silently there. Following him. Protecting him. Loving him. And accepting him. Even In his brokenness.
What a beautiful example.
Thanks for growing with me. ❤
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)