Ashes

When I got to Southwest Christian Hospice (SCH from now on)  yesterday, my mentor for the semester, Chaplain Cutter and I got straight to work, doing patient visits.

We met with the nurses first, to see how they were doing and how their shift was going, and to ask how the patients were doing, and who might need to be first on our list for visits. We enjoyed a nice chat with some of the nurses, then went to do our rounds.

Patient J. was our first visit of the day. She was looking out of the window, watching the sun stream in onto her bed. She’s on a lot of medication, so she was a little hard to understand, and likely had a hard time understanding what we were doing there as well.

We sat with her for a few minutes, Mr. Cutter every now and then would break the silence to ask her how she was feeling today, and what she was thinking about.

He turned to me at one point and said “you know, some of our people are in and out of coherence sometimes, but the ministry of presence is very important. It’s good for people to have someone to come and be with them. It’s not necessary to always have something to say. Sometimes, our presence is what they need the most.”

” You know how when Job was going through all his troubles?” he continued, “remember his friends, coming to sit with him while he was sitting in the ashes?”

I nodded.

“Well, Sara, that’s what we do. We sit in the ashes.”

Ah. Simple words, yet strangely beautiful.

We asked Patient J. if we could say a prayer with her, and we did. We finished rounds, I sat in on an MDT (multi-disciplinary team) meeting, then I got to “play chaplain” for 5 minutes, and do phone call follow-ups with some people who had expressed an interest in the GriefShare group that will be starting this month.

Before driving over to SCH yesterday, I got to preach in my preaching class. My grandfather, who died in December of 2010, had a starring role in my sermon.

I think he’s had as much of an impact on my future career goals as any other circumstance has. In my sermon I talked about his legacy of service to others. He used to go to nursing homes all the time to visit people who didn’t get visitors.

He would play cards with them (usually Rook or Bridge), talk to them, be with them.

I got to join him on his “rounds” several times during college because my school was about an hour and a half from his house.

Some of the best weekends I had in college were spent going to his house to hang out, and go to “old people socials” (sorry, I don’t know what else you call them. Maybe fellowship gatherings?), yard sales, livestock auctions,

and nursing homes,

to play,

to visit,

to sit in the ashes.

2 thoughts on “Ashes

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