Miracle Moments Miracle Moments Of Personal Growth

VERY DAY WHEN I ARRIVE at CHRISTUS St. Joseph Villa I am amazed by the dedication and spirit that I see in our Associates. I have worked in a variety of health care organizations, but never have I experienced the sense of community that permeates this facility.

Miracles still happen as they did in the scriptures, but we can miss them if we fail to pay attention. One such miracle occurred when I was visiting a resident named Paul. Paul moved into our long-term care facility following the death of his wife. He was unhappy about having to give up his home and independence, and often angry with the staff and volunteers who visited him.

During my routine visits to the unit, I would often stop and greet Paul with a smile and a cheerful hello. He never said much and usually ignored my efforts to interact with him. I continued to visit regularly despite any indication that my presence was helping him in a positive way. My only goal was to convey to Paul that his life mattered to me and that I cared about him.

One day while making rounds, I found Paul sitting alone in his room and looking very sad. I asked if I could come in and he simply shrugged his shoulders as if to indicate he didn’t really care one way or the other. I sat down beside him and held his hand, and there was nothing but a deafening silence between us. After what seemed like an eternity, Paul looked up at me and said, “Why do you care about me?” “I sense you are feeling sad with so much loss in your life,” I replied. “You have endured the death of your wife and given up your home, a place of comfort and security. It looks to me like you need a friend, and I am trying to help you feel at peace in this place.”

From that moment on, Paul and I not only became friends but soul mates. He would share his feelings and fears, joys and sorrows, his good days and bad, and together we would travel down his “memory lane.” We became faith sharers and seekers, often praying together for God’s healing touch in our lives.

Paul died several months later, but his spirit and his life have renewed my ministry. I often look back on this experience and think what I would have missed had I given up on Paul. Gifts and miracles come in all shapes and sizes, and mine was wrapped in anger and grief. Sometimes it is hard to believe that a harsh demeanor can give way to a gentle, kind heart in need, just waiting for someone to listen.

Paul’s presence was a defining moment in my life. As a chaplain, I was invited along as a companion on his journey. God uses us to convey His love, to be an instrument of His making. It is easy to reach out and care for the loveable people God places in our paths. But what about those who are infinitely harder to love—the angry and hurting souls who desperately need a healing touch? Needless to say, what gifts await us if we only persevere and listen to our hearts.

CHRISTUS St. Joseph Villa
Salt Lake City, Utah