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I can’t believe what just happened. No matter that I was new at my job with the Visiting Nurse Association, that I was swamped handling our own referrals and had no time for supervising. She poo-pooed my objections, said that I had been recommended by the social worker at Cardinal Glennon’s for her practicum placement and no other would do. Besides, she was late for her class at Washington University and had to leave. Laughing, she grabbed her stuff and said, “See you Monday. This’ll work out—You’ll see!”

And it did, but not as you would think. She had no need for supervision: I needed it from her. Thus began our dinner meetings in the Delmar Loop, August 1979.

A single mom, she was raising five children, working nights at Glennon’s ER and finishing her master’s degree in Social work, besides having one in nursing. She inspired me to minimize my arthritic pain and engage in life around me. It worked, even to discarding my social work practice and becoming a certified chaplain, a better fit with my emerging gifts.

Our bonding deepened with annual retreats at Gloucester, where we continued our dinner meetings over fresh seafood and more laughter. There, she found her God in tending seagulls, their wings broken by the casts of anglers on the breakfront by Gloucester harbor—My wings have long since been whole.

Long seasoned with life’s fullness, she continues touching many.

Her name is Pat.

 

 

“Hi Liz, may I come in?” It was Carolyn, the doctor from hospice, gowned, gloved, and masked in yellow, standing in the open doorway. “I wanted to give you a hug before you left.” Her voice was soft, caring, and sweet like the honeycomb of the Psalms. My heart stirred, remembering her responses to my questions, yesterday, coached in words I could understand, words that I set to memory last night atop my bed.

“Yes, by all means do.” I pushed myself from the edge of the bed and stood, albeit a bit wobbly, and fell into her expansive arms. Instantly, her energy tripped my psyche into gladness, more tingly than freshets ambling down limestone rocks. Indeed, hospice was the new direction and I would take it.

“And you do understand about the little blue pill you’re going home with—Dexamethasone—how it will help your breathing? That you take with breakfast starting tomorrow? she asked.

I nodded. Yes, everything was clear. Only the supportive services of hospice were yet to be experienced.

Again seated on the side of my bed, dressed, my bag packed at my feet, I looked out the window, the sun glinting upon the iced roof shingles of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

A new way was opening before me. I only had to follow, alone, with my God.

 

 

Crazed hatred stalks the chambers of governments; fuels killings in war zones, in classrooms and back alleys, within wombs; shreds trust in all segments of society; demoralizes familes. In desperate straits, we cry out:

Our Father who art in heaven—We seek the center-point of your silence within our shadowy depths.

Hallowed be your name— Arms outstretched, we prostrate ourselves before your inexplicable holiness. We wait.

Thy Kingdom come—We yearn for color-flushes that alone eradicate the global gutting of psyches.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven—We surrender anew to this empowerment; its multifaceted bliss stirs us.

Give us this day our daily bread—We yearn for spiritual sustenance, one day at a time, which alone fortifies our tentative steps across rocky terrains.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us—We own our violence to ourselves and to others and beg forgiveness; such energize us to forgive others and repair rifts in the social fabric. Our part does matter.

And lead us not into temptation—We beg for discipline to listen for true guidance emanating from within and without.

Deliver us from evil—We pray for discernment to avoid the allure of evil in its multiple disguises.

For Thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory, both now and forevermore—We rejoice within this freshness and thrive, despite the cloying darkness that still surrounds us. We have the protection.

Amen—And so it is.

 

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