I’ve often found it to be an oxymoron that McDonald’s exists in many hospitals. While French fries, cheeseburgers, and McFlurries are great comfort food, they aren’t so much the healthiest option. However, in two of the hospitals where I’ve worked, I have found those “Golden Arches” to be the gateway to holy ground.
During the past six years, I’ve shared communion with a family outside the ICU with chicken nuggets and Sprite. I’ve taken a McFlurry to a teenager who was having a horrible day. I took a large “real Coke” to a grieving mother who, when I asked what she needed in that moment responded, “I need a real Coke and a funeral service, but I need the Coke first.” I shared biscuits and coffee with adult children while we sang Morning Has Broken as their parent died. I’ve taken fruit and yogurt breakfast parfaits to ER nurses after a long trauma in the wee hours of the night. I’ve seen family members of patients while we were all standing in line at McDonald’s and they’ve shared all kinds of emotions and thoughts they couldn’t or wouldn’t share in front of their loved one in the hospital room.
As I found myself in line again at McDonald’s at an odd hour, and I overheard one father sharing his fears about his daughter’s condition with her youth pastor, I overheard a mother telling her 6-year-old that since she was so brave during her little brother’s tests, she could get a Happy Meal, and I overheard a sister comforting her brother who was scared about his child’s condition.
McDonald’s isn’t very healthy for our hearts and arteries, but I know and believe it is good for our souls. Even as adults, we all have days where we need someone to tell us how brave we are and buy us a Happy Meal. So, the next time you do something outside of your comfort zone, or offer care to a friend, or interview for a job, or have a hard conversation, or take a family member to a doctor’s appointment, drive on through the Golden Arches and get a little soul food in the form of nuggets, a large “real Coke,” or a McFlurry.
Being all grown up takes an awful lot of bravery some days, and you’re never too old for a Happy Meal.
*Direct quotations and descriptions of situations where I was directly involved are included by permission and the commitment to uphold anonymity.
This post was originally featured as a guest post on Thighs and Offerings.