Job 7:1-4, 6-7
1 Cor. 9:16-19, 22-23
This week a woman named Ann, who worked in the administration of our hospital died. Ann had worked about 25 years for this hospital system. Although she shared an office space that was one floor below the first floor, she was anything but hidden from all those with whom she worked and interacted.
Because of her impact on the lives of people in the health system, there was an open house in the hospital chapel where people could come and remember Ann. One of her colleagues put together a simple arrangement of candles, a book where guests could write, paste in or draw pictures; this was put on the altar. At the end of the day all would be given to her family.
The chaplaincy department hosted the day of remembering. As one of the chaplains I had an opportunity to hear from people stories about Ann. The first person to come was someone who worked in the doctor’s lounge. She told me how Ann would help her put clean plastic bags into the garbage cans when she would empty them. Later in the morning her boss talked about how Ann was indispensable in learning about the people and the needs of the hospital.
All day long the stories about Ann continued. People talked about how you could ask Ann for anything and she would smile and pull it out of her purse or a section of her desk. Her boss talked about how she would call families back a day or two after she forwarded their need to the appropriate people, just to make sure that their needs got met. No one’s family was too great or small for Ann to take time to respond to their need.
In the gospel for the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time/February 8th Jesus walks through the door of Simon and Andrew’s home. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. Jesus “approached her, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her.” Later in the day Jesus met the needs of all kinds of people with all kinds of needs. In both reading and hearing the gospel, I am struck that Jesus walked through the inner doors of people’s lives and offered them presence, time, and hope.
Every day I see many people come through the doors of our hospital. They bring with them stories waiting to happen, to be heard and to be healed. On Friday I heard about the miracles which Ann created through her presence to the needs of others and caring for them in a way that was gracious. She brought out the best in people through her bag of hope, out of which she pulled small nosed pliers as easily as time to hear a story.
This week I hope to carry that same spaciousness which can lift a fever from the sick as easily as a smile can give hope to a stranger walking through the door. I hope Mark’s gospel and the stories of Ann can remind me that all things are possible from a place of love and respect.