In the name of the Supreme Healer, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Good Morning , and a Happy New Year to all of you!
I have always visually loved the Gospel for today – Jesus stands up and takes the position of authority telling the assembly in the synagogue who he is. He claims his birthright saying “Here I am and this is what I’m going to do”.
And then he goes out and does it as witnessed by the Gospels, and in this retelling by Luke, Jesus tells us what to do, too. This is what is expected of us – to recognize our spiritual gifts and go forth and use them.
how did I come to be a member of the healing arts? I arrived in the US at the age of 22, told
Northeastern University in Boston that I wanted to become a student there
whereupon they told me to take the
Today I’ve been a nurse for 30 years practicing in many fields. My latest vocation has been in hospice nursing.
I wandered down this path began with my exposure to dedicated and faithful
Similarly in South Africa I assisted at a Bantu clinic when I was 13 and 14 years old, and witnessed women who had walked miles barefoot to see the doctors who opened the bush clinic once a month. In particular I remember one little boy who had fallen into a cook fire and had severe burns on one side of his body. He must have been in enormous pain after walking miles with his mother to get there, but stood stoically and silently while being examined. His mother was given an antibiotic salve for the burns and asked to come back the next month. This was the only time all these people could get medical care. It was a blessing to them that there were dedicated healers willing to come out to the bush once a month and work 2 long, long days to help people who normally and without this clinic would never get medical care.
couple of years later at an Anglican boarding school in
know I used these experiences in foreign lands as part of my entrance letter
Jesus in the Gospel for today states, quoting from Isaiah, that he comes to bring good news to the poor, to release the captives, to recover the sight of the blind and to let the oppressed go free. What Isaiah had promised, Jesus is fulfilling. Jesus also did not only free people from their physical suffering but focused too on their spiritual and emotional suffering.
This is the call of a nurse – to free the patient from physical and emotional pain in as much as we are able – we intercede on their behalf when they aren’t able to do so, in essence to be the hands and feet of Christ. Those of us who are Christian nurses have a deeper well from which to draw for sustenance in our sometimes very difficult jobs. Our faith speaks to that power of healing into which we can all tap. Jesus called his healings “works” not miracles. Our work is healing – if we look at our hands, we look at the hands of Christ in the world today. Our actions are those that Christ would have us do. As I make my rounds on my patients I pray before I enter each door. I am mindful that each person with whom I come into contact is that unknown angel that will bring me a blessing of some kind, and I hope to be as much a blessing to them.
In hospice nursing there is no cure for the physical ailment from which the patient suffers. What we offer is comfort, love, acceptance, and kindness. We meet each patient where they are physically and emotionally, we accept them for who they are, we alleviate their suffering which may not all be physical, and bring comfort to them and their family. We have had patients who were not at all ready to die and leave this earthly life. We have had angry patients and angry families at how unfair this whole dealing with dying can be.
If the family is too noisy and having a good time seeing each other after many years apart, the patient struggles to stay around and be part of that party. We had one gentleman whose heart and respirations stopped three times before the family, with our encouragement, told him it was OK to leave – they would all take care of each other, and love each other. They were then able to settle into a quiet vigil and the patient was able to peacefully and comfortably die without struggle. The family became the healers. They brought comfort, reassurance and peace to the patient. So too, nurses are teachers.
I tell you this story to bring you to the idea that you too are a healer. You may not feel it as you’ve not trained to be in the medical field, but you have skills to bring healing. You smile at a stranger, and that heals the loneliness in a soul, you thank someone who has served you whether in a restaurant or store, and you raise that person’s sense of self worth in that you noticed that they had done a good job, you look at the forgotten people that we walk by every day as if they are invisible, and that look into their eyes brings healing in recognition – they are seen.
contact is powerfully healing – really looking at the homeless guy or gal
selling newspapers and acknowledging that they are human is not going to heal
their addiction, but it does let them know that they are visible. The elderly, too, suffer from being invisible – too
often they are making their way slowly down the aisles of the grocery store or
down the road in front of us as they carefully navigate our wicked
The physically handicapped ask us to not treat them as invisible – some of them really just need eye contact and a smile to make a difference in their day! You are healers. Those of us who are in the healing arts have book learning that sets us apart, but does not separate us from the basic art of healing – a look, a smile, sometimes a touch, or a wave, all are a simple acknowledgement of humanness, a reminder to them, and to us that they merit dignity. And, in the words of our Baptismal Covenant we are all called, and I quote:
Will you seek and serve Christ in all
your neighbor as yourself?
And we respond:
I will, with God’s help.
Will you strive for justice and peace among all
people, and respect the dignity of every human
To which we respond:
I will, with God’s help.
I like the last one especially – respecting the dignity of every human being. You are not called to love everyone – that is probably only the department of the Divine, but we are called to respect the dignity of everyone.
I would like to read you this quote which appeared on December 26th in the Forward Day by Day that I receive in my email:
We rejoice that Jesus was born to dwell among us and show us what separates us from God, what splits us apart from one another, and what divides us from ourselves. Jesus lived, taught, healed, challenged, and proclaimed the love of God in such a way that it turned the world upside down. That is our challenge as well.
Let’s go out there and turn someone else’s world upside down by treating them as humans and the angels that they are to us – education does not separate us from the gift of healing. Our faith by its very nature calls us all to be healers. You have the tools, your smile, your hands, your feet and your words.