So in the many years of ministry to the young it’s not all that often that I get called on to visit the sick, but each time I do I find myself feeling that it’s a place where God calls me to examine more carefully what it is that I do as a minister and how I’m called to be present.
On Facebook, a student informed those connected with her that she would be having surgery and was nervous. I found myself typing the words, “Would you like someone to come by?” A day or so later, she wrote back and asked if someone could come and bring her the Eucharist. So I gladly offered to do so.
It’s amazing how people will let you into their lives when they are at the most vulnerable. I see it in those who see me for direction and I witnessed this again this weekend with a woman who had nasal surgery this week. Her mom (aren’t moms always around when their kids get sick?) met me at the door and warned me that her daughter said that she wouldn’t look good when I came in.
Honestly, she looked better than I expected. She couldn’t really talk much and had some issues with breathing–to be expected post-surgery. She told me of how her mom was caring for her, washing her hair and making sure she was comfy. But in the brief moments of being with her and being a minister of the Eucharist at this time for her was quite touching.
And as usual it was here that I experienced God.
Sometimes there are just no words. I moved over to her desk and prepared the Eucharist for her. She was having some trouble swallowing so I just asked her if she wanted a smaller portion and she agreed that was a good idea.
It’s amazing what a little bit of Jesus can do.
I said those intimate words: “The Body of Christ” to which she responded “Amen.” And in that simple sharing of a meal Jesus is again present to us, coursing through our veins and giving us the strength we need for our individual journeys. I looked at her after she received the Eucharist and she had this look of peace, different from when I came in and the look of being troubled and exhausted was all over her face. We shared a few words and I kissed her forehead as I left, much like I do with my little niece. And promised to check in with her later in the week.
When we visit those who are sick we bring them something that is hard-pressed to find when we are feeling down. We bring hope. Even when we visit the dying, we remind them that God will take care of us, even when the specter of death looms large over us.
A dying friend, Patrick, once told me of a woman, another patient, who gallivanted around the hospital singing and whistling daily.
“I wanted to stick my head in her room and shout: DOOM!”
That made me laugh but it also let me know that Patrick was in a dark place. Sickness has that hold on us. How can we possibly think about all the good that God has for us when we are in a yucky place of illness?
Or worse, when we know that we are dying?
Thankfully, my student will get better. It’s a short recovery process but it seems like forever now to her. Today I keep her in prayer and remind myself that God can use me to make her recovery just a slight bit easier.