Prv 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31
1 Thes 5:1-6
Mt 25:14-30 or 25:14-15, 19-21
Two weeks ago I began a new job as staff chaplain for the medical and surgery units of a large hospital. Although it has been three and a half years since I worked at a hospital, I found myself feeling immediately at home. These past three and a half years as a home hospice chaplain has given me new skills in growing relationships that are based both on vulnerability and strength. I hope to use them in my new setting.
As has been true in the past the people who started out on my hospice list to be “new patients” quickly became my most skilled teachers. They taught me about risk and choice, about fear and trust in brand new ways. One of my senior teachers, a woman a little older than 96 talked to me recently about her adventures as a mom and wife of a country doctor. She talked about the hard economic times when families traded produce for health care. She described how she learned to get her groceries during winters where meters of snow fell, how she got her groceries with a small sled wrapping her small daughters in blankets as they went to the general store.
Later in life she described having opportunities to travel abroad. When I asked which country she enjoyed the most, she answered, “I can’t choose as I learned different things from each country.”
Later in the conversation she talked about dying with amazing trust. She said, “I don’t know what’s next, but this life is good, I am sure the next will be just as good.” Her eyes were smiling just as they had during each of the previous adventures she told me about; just as they had as she told me about the challenges of making life happen in the midst of severe winters and getting her first job outside the house at the age of 54 when her husband died unexpectedly.
The gospel reading from the 16th of November reminded me of this hospice patient. She took everything that life offered her and learned the gift of multiplying its gift. She took a snow storm and learned how to use it as an opportunity to make friendships with new people; she took trips to new places and looked for new things to enjoy that weren’t part of the travel brochure.
I have to admit for a long time I could really identify with the man who buried his talents in order not to lose it. The fear of not doing it right or good enough became a lethal response to a possibly wonderful opportunity. I think the gospel story is telling me, “Go for it!” Play with your gifts, see where it takes you.
So as this new week unfolds, may I be embolden by the gospel reading to, “Go for it!” And may I dare to let the stories of my teacher(s) penetrate my fears to a place of having my heart passport ready for the next adventure. For I am sure just like my teacher, that it will be in those adventures that I too will travel and meet the face of God in ways I never imagined.