The Best Hotel Lobby in the World

When I booked the hotel, I didn't know it was next to a big hospital. 

People who checked in walked carefully, slowly. I rode the elevator with a man in a leg cast. A young couple crossed the lobby carrying a little baby with a big helmet. A fellow at the bar wore a surgical mask. A woman came in from the cold with gauze stretched across her eyes. 

Geez, I thought as I unpacked my bags. Could I have picked a more heartbreaking place to stay?

The day was stormy and snowy. With roads and sidewalks unplowed, I ended up spending hours in the lobby working. 

And what I saw in that lobby did, indeed, break my heart. 

Strangers ate dinner together, shared drinks, talked long into the winter night. One man said to another, Great to meet! Ever in trouble anywhere in the world, you call me, okay? Hotel staff called guests by their names, placed warm hands on strained shoulders. 

I watched it all and felt my heart break open. Many of us stuff down our pain and chirp, "I'm fine." But that wasn't an option for these hotel guests. They wore their wounds openly, and here in this hotel lobby, they had found kinship in their pain. 

There is something about sharing the truth of ourselves that crumbles the defenses we put up to protect ourselves. And when we find each other in our woundedness, a quality of connection emerges that could nurture even the most broken parts of us. 

The next day, I packed my bags. I checked out. I left, knowing that this heartbreaking place had broken me open. And grace had come in. 

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