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.
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