A Punch in the Gut

I struggled a bit with what to call this post. In addition to “A Punch in the Gut”, I also considered the following, “50 Years of Enforcing Rules”, “Been There, Done That”, “Fighting for Babies and Mother Nature”, “Choosing the Rules”, and “Say Fred, How’s the Microwave?”

All but, the last one were serious.

I was on a hike this morning in an area that w ravaged with wildfires last year. Certain areas have been desginated off limits so that their habitats can be restored.

This was the trail that triggered my memory from almost 50 years ago.

I came across a trail that connections with the one I was hiking. It is one of the off limits trails. The signs clearly indicated that the trail was closed, and yet, there are footprints and tire treads everywhere on it.

Someone even broke down one of the signs that says the trail was closed.

Naturally I was disappointed and frustrated. As I was “fixing up” the trail junction by placing the sign in the trail, I recalled an incident that occured decades ago….


A modern day pic of the hospital

When I was in third grade, I had to spend a few days in the hospital as a result of a surgery I needed. My surgery was at Holy Redeemer Hospital in PA. My mom worked as a nurse there.

I had a blast on the pediatric ward. Following my surgery, my hospital friend would run up and down the hallways with baby powder containers in each hand. While we ran with our arms extended, we would squeeze the containers and the powder would come out behind us like the exhaust from a jet airplane.

It was so much fun!

When I was admitted on to the ward, one of the nuns, yes they had nuns working in the hospital, took some of the children around to orient them to the ward. One of the stops on the ward was at the nursery. When tellings us about the nursery, the nun’s voice changed from mildly friendly to dead serious.

She stuck her hand out as we approach the entry to the nursery and abruptly stopped us in our tracks. We all looked up at her, bewildered and curious about the dramatic gesture.

With tight lips, she tolds us, “You may NOT go into the nursery.” She spit out each word and it hit between the eyes. “There are small babies in there, and you need to stay away.”

I peaked around her to look into the forbidden room. I could see babies in contraptions that looked like baby beds that were smaller and had lots of stuff sticking out of them.

The others in the group were also try to get a quick glimpse.

The nun thrust her hand down in front of us and pushed our shoulders to turn us around to start walking away from the nursery.

I thought at the time that the nursery must have been a very important place.

The next day, I made a friend with a brown-skinned boy. I cannot remember his name. I think he may have been from India.

He and I were playing jet airplane and running up and down the wide hallways. We turned a corner that led down to the room in which we were staying. He ran out of gas (baby powder), close to the nursery. I ran by him spewing my powder behind me.

When I notice that he had stopped, I slowed down and then turned around.

He was heading toward the nursery.

Oh no! He was heading toward the nursery!!

I dropped my engines on the floor and ran to the nursery. When I got there, he was about two steps inside the room. I stopped in the doorway and exclaimed, “You can’t go in there. We are not allowed in the nursery!!”

He stopped, turned his head to look at me and then took another step further into the room.

I now yelled, still standing in the doorway, trying my best to follow the nun’s directions, “YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE ROOM. YOU NEED TO GET OUT!”

Again he ignored my pleading. He started to walk toward one of the babies.

What in the world was he doing? I looked around and did not see any adults. I had to do something.

I ran into where he was, grabbed his shoulder and when he turned around, I punched him straight in the stomach.

He doubled over in pain as I ran back out of the nursery. I stopped again at the doorway and when I turned back to look at him, he still was bent over and had not moved.

I decided to leave the scene and I grabbed my engines and headed back to my room.

I made it safely back to room and just sat on my bed for about one minute. At that time a red-haired nun came barrelling into the room. Steam was coming out of her nostrils.

She walked right up to me, looked me squarely in the eyes and snorted, “What were you doing in the nursery?”

I paused for a minute in fear. But then I realized that once I told her what my friend was doing she would realized that I did a good thing. I was following the rule and I was protecting the babies.

After I told her what happened, I did not get the response I was anticipating. She was furious.

“You punched him in the stomach? Why in the world would you do that?”

I opened my mouth to try to answer when she grabbed my hand an pulled me over to a chair that was right by the door to the room. She sat down and put me over her lap and began to spank my bottom.

“Your friend is very sick. He just had surgery and you punched him where he had the surgery.”

I didn’t really understand anything other than I was getting my first every spanking. It didn’t hurt physically, but it did hurt my feelings. I didn’t know my friend was sick. (And yet we were in a hospital.)

After my spanking, she stood up and walked out of the room calmly. She came back in moments later with my roommate friend in tow.

The nun looked at me and then looked at my friend. She asked him to pull up his shirt.

It was at that moment I understood. I saw something that has been permanently etched in my brain for almost 50 years.

I saw a huge set of purple looking stitches that ran from his belly all the way up to his chest. It looked horrific, unimaginable. I had sinking feeling in my stomach and that same feeling comes back EVERY time I recall this event.


There are several similarities with this childhood event and with how I felt today on the trail.

Both situations dealt with places that were off limits. One dealt with babies and the other with an entire habitat/ecosystem in Provo Canyon, UT. Both situations dealt with things that are very important to me: healthy children and a healthy environment. Finally, both dealt with people putting their own wants/desires over the needs and well-being of others.

While I do find those similarities annoying, I have to be real and state that none of us is perfect and we all have areas of weakness and plenty of shortcomings. I want to clearly state that because there are certainly times when I have bent rules…oh plenty of times.

I am not necessarily writing in judgment, although I do feel a little, the point is to show that similarities in my own self that have persevered from childhood to seasoned adulthood.

I love that my brain connected the two incidents. I find that fact quite fascinating.

I am reminded of my own weakness and my own ability to create rules of my own and to ignore rules set by others. I need to go deeper into this and perhaps I will do so in my upcoming meditations. I already have a sense of where it will lead me. If it is interesting, I will follow up with another post here at the Umenum.

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