Is 35:1-6a, 10
Miracles Great and Small
The other day I sat with a man who was dying. I was told that he was dying and that he was afraid. You could tell by looking at him and listening to his breathing that he was working hard to hold his own. I was asked by his daughter to please come out and pray with him. I chatted with him for a little while before I asked if I might pray with him. He wasn’t verbal, so I, based on his daughter’s request for prayer started the prayer.
Immediately his eyes and eye brows told me that he didn’t want that kind of prayer. It is important to me that I don’t impose upon someone my love of prayer. I have learned over the years that God doesn’t need my prayers in order to welcome someone home. For the readers, you may think, “Well of course, God doesn’t need your prayers.” A very fair response, however, I have also learned that people who are dying may want your presence even if they don’t want your words.
So I fessed up to him that I knew God didn’t need my words for him to be welcomed home. Jim’s (the patient) face relaxed again. I noticed that Jim was starring into my eyes. I then began to pray that my eyes might be a vehicle for God’s loving presence for Jim. He looked at me for a very long time and as he did his eye brows relaxed and his eyes seemed a little more peaceful. After a while it seemed like a good time to leave. I thanked Jim for allowing me to hang out with him. I told him that I would keep him in my prayers and possibly see him next week.
In the first reading of the third Sunday of Advent, Isaiah talks to us about what will happen when the “glory of the Lord appears…” As I listened to and thought about this reading I wondered what it would be like to see the engaged splendor of God. What would it be like to see “the eyes of the blind open, and the ears of the deaf cleared?”
It is so easy for me to get caught in these amazing healings that I remove myself as being part of a world where miracles happen everyday all around me. The miracles aren’t often as glitzy as the physical ones named in the first reading. For example the other day I called the daughter of a patient who died this summer. She was surprised and pleased to have me call her. Although she told me that she remembers all the people who were part of her journey with her mother, she often thinks that we have probably become too busy to remember her. It took a simple phone call to bring the Christ light.
I am new at my place of work. Feeling new is such an odd thing, at times down right uncomfortable. Last week I heard an overhead announcement, “Would the chaplain please come into the billing’s office.” I thought, being the only chaplain, “oh no, I think I turned in my paper work…etc. etc.” So in I went to see the folks in the billing office. “Yes, here I am, what is it you want?” The two folks in the office smiled and said, “We hadn’t seen you today and just wanted to see how your day was going?”
Their gesture of hospitality wasn’t complicated to do; it merely took the thought of doing it. I don’t think I physically leaped when they asked how I was doing, however I did feel like I was starting to belong. For me this was the miracle which is such a blessing to new people.
My patient Jim didn’t seem to want “God words.” However, he seemed comforted by someone trying to be a loving presence. Granted some of you who read this may have the experience of being part of the story where the eyes of the blind are opened and the lame leap. However, I think that this reading is meant for me too. Perhaps the reading of this third week of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, is about the joys and miracles which happen without an angel showing up or choirs of angels singing the Halleluiah chorus.
This week I will seek to be more open to the ever expanding light of Christ as they show up in simple gestures of love.