Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Beauty of Service

Dear Friends,

First a report:  my brother is recuperating from congestive heart failure.  There are some other concerns as well that competent physicians are handling at the moment.  Perhaps Jack will be able to return home by the weekend.  He is in no hurry to leave until his doctors have discovered the difficulties that involved his heart, lungs and kidneys.

During the many hours that I sat with Jack in his first "room" -- almost 24 hours in the emergency room because the hospital was full --- I tried to imagine myself as an administrator of the hospital having the opportunity to be sitting in a patient's room.  Even when I left, yesterday, there were still patients awaiting an empty room in the regular patients' rooms.  As of yesterday the emergency room continued to be a place of holding.  However, during the time I was there, I noticed the attitudes of those who came to my brother.

Hospital service can, as we all know, be somewhat lacking.  I would have expected there to be a shortage of patience and good TLC because the nursing staff was not experiencing any break.  These
servers of healing were so pushed by so many needs that there was almost a sense of overwhelming care and concern because they were so busy with so many patients.  Every nurse and doctor came with a genuine sense of service, of outreach, of care.  I watched as one particular nurse who was changing the sheets etc. on my brother's bed while I was listening to a presentation by a woman giving a parish retreat in Hawaii.  Under the nurses breath I would hear such things as "Yes, Lord Jesus, Yes."  When her task was completed, she asked me ever so politely, "Can you tell me what that was you were listening to?"  And thus began a conversation about the story of Martha and Mary which was the topic of the retreat director she overheard.   Another moment came when another attending nurse was giving my brother another round of medications, said to me "You know, I used to be a Catholic.  But now I attend a community church which gives me so much support and so much awareness of sacred scripture."  Thus began another lengthy conversation about service, about youth ministry programs and the excitement of her pastor who is so strong in building up the faith among the late teens.  She told me how many 18-19-20 year old boys were so often filling up the front areas of the church!  And they were not embarrassed by their faith.   They could talk to anyone about church, about God, about faith and they loved being able to do that.

What a great experience for me to see that these and others were the kind of people working under great pressures but who did not forget what it mean first and foremost:  we are human beings!

Have to run over to Mass.  Going to be late if I go any longer.

Oremus pro invicem!

Fr. Milt