It is always lovely when visitors join us for worship, and how wonderful to then be given permission to publish their response. The reflection below was written by a visitor who attended our Maundy Thursday service. Thank you, Dana, for joining in our worship, and thank you for this beautiful reflection.
It’s Holy Week and I am coming off a 24 hour shift at the hospital. Last night, at the Pastoral Care office I was able to zoom into an Maundy Thursday service at my friends’ Anglican church [Editor's note: that's us!]. I was hoping my pager wouldn’t buzz and call me away. Due to COVID, instead of foot washing they did hand washing. I managed to find paper towels and a small plastic cup that I filled with warm water from the water cooler. On the screen, a woman was singing “Christ has no hands but ours” as masked, physically distant people walked to the front of church, placed their hands over a basin, and a priest poured a bit of water on them. As I dipped my fingers into the little plastic cup, I thought about the patients whom I had touched that day.
The day began with a formerly homeless veteran who had recently stopped drinking. Tears silently ran down his face as I touched his shoulder and prayed Psalm 23 over him.
Next came a young woman who fractured her ankle while walking her dog (let the reader take note). However, the brokenness she suffered from was emotional. She talked and talked and talked about her large and highly abusive family. It was complicated and horrible and at points she was complicit in the drama. I told her there was a family like hers in the Bible and pointed her to Joseph and his hot mess of a family. She was astonished and encouraged that such a family was included in the scriptures. After my final attempt to wrap up her litany, she exhaled deeply, “I feel soooo much better.” I touched her shoulder as I left.
Later, I visited another young person. I had been avoiding him as another chaplain said that he had uncovered himself. I left him to the male chaplains but I saw that none of them had followed up with him in over two weeks. I feel ill equipped with helping patients who have certain mental illnesses and I took him as my challenge for the day. I checked in with the nurse before entering his room and shot up a prayer. He was delightful and quite the gentleman. We talked about nature, music, art, texting. At one point he said something wise and I replied, “You seem like an old soul.” To which he stated, “Well, you seem like an exuberant youngster.” He was right, I felt energetic and engaged. We both laughed which was a gift because his story is heartbreaking. Over a year ago, he jumped out of a six story window. Although he survived, his injuries left him unable to walk which is why he was on my mostly orthopedic floor. He was being discharged to go home soon and as we said good-bye I chose not to touch him. He and his family have a long and hard road ahead and I hope our visit brought a bit of normalcy to him.
On another wing, an older patient had had a bloody stool and then “shat out the whole US of A.” I touched her shoulder as we laughed at that description. She was overjoyed that I could add her to the Catholic communion list as she had not taken communion for over a year (so many Catholics have been met by the on site priests that the hospital provides).
A liver transplant patient wanted to tell me how good God was for bringing him back from near death and mental confusion to new clarity. Although the conversation was done entirely in Spanglish and his mouth vacuum that sucked out secretions was on full blast, we muddled through. Once again, I touched his shoulder as we thanked God together.
There were more patients than these. All with their own stories, all precious in the eyes of God.
“Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.” ~ Teresa of Avila