Sir 35:12-14, 16-18
2 Tm 4:6-8, 16-18
Rubber Stamp, I think Not!
Recently I had the occasion to pray with a patient, her granddaughter and her sister. When it came time to pray I asked each of them, “For what do you want to pray?” Each of them had several things for which they wanted to pray. The patient’s sister began her prayer with, “As a sinner, I have such trouble with hate in my heart…please forgive me and take care of…” The patient began with “Father God please take care of…and bring peace to these walls.” The granddaughter said, “Dear God please take care of my two babies and…” Each of them prayed from a place that invited the framing of my own words to a depth I didn’t expect.
Later, I walked with my patient’s sister back to her apartment. She invited me to please come in and see how Jesus was on every wall and surface of her home. I did, and He was…every wall and on every surface. After touring her small, but deeply sincere house church she began to tell me about her days of prayer. She talked about putting a sign on her door, “Do not bother me, I am busy.” She talked about how Jesus responded to her prayers. I told her that I was going to have her put me on her prayer list. She smiled.
As I thanked her for her time and the tour, she again told me that she struggles with hate in her heart for bad people and how difficult it is for her to forgive people. I tried to take it all in, listening and being amazed at this woman’s sincerity. In my earlier days as a chaplain I might have rubber stamped the end of our conversation with “God will heal you.” Or “Don’t worry,” however today I was in the presence of a woman who knew God far better than me. What she seemed to need more than anything was person who could listen not with the right answers, but with an open heart.
Fifteen minutes later I got into my car mindful of how easy it would have been to fall into the trap of the Pharisee…right answers, but wrong timing. So as I take in the gospel reading for the 28th of October, I am grateful to be aware of my own temptations to answer without listening or hurrying on and missing the most important moment. I am grateful that I didn’t fall into my own trap of being the one confused about my role.
I was not the messenger of God, through these blessed women I was the receiver of God’s faithfulness and steady hand. As I lean into the week’s celebrations of All Saints and All Souls I give thanks for the three holy women whose words invited me to taste the bigness and boldness of God’s presence.