For us who work so close to the residents, familiarity can become a bit of a struggle. This is why I always take a minute or two to purposely think on what I am doing every time I engage in a conversation with a resident. I guess I have learned to do this after a few unfinished conversations. One day you say to a resident “I will see you next week”, to learn that over the weekend the resident has departed to heaven. But my major source of learning has been every staff member that daily embraces the residents as their own.
Familiarity will lower our expressions of love and care. I find that in all realms of life. There are days that my wife and I have forgotten to say “good morning”, just because it feels that it is not necessary. However it is so important to stop and purposely think about those that are around us. This will help us much to empathize with those we love and also with everyone that is around us throughout our day.
I personally don’t want to get too familiar with the intrinsic duties and expectation of my pastoral work, I want to see every day and person in its uniqueness, and enjoy them as if it was the first time and the last time at the same time.
This is particularly important at a nursing home where most of the time we walk side by side with the residents to their last destination on Earth. Regardless of our position or duties when we are around a resident we all become Ushers of Destiny to them, like angels preparing the path to the last door. Our playing-part in this orchestra is unique to our duties and crucial to a resident who day by day gains strength to welcome the next season in life. Have you ever felt this way?
How do we do this? My meditations have brought me to a simple conclusion: by bringing joy. What brings joy though? Well, joy is different than happiness, or laughter… joy is a state of being that can only be brought out in honest relationship with others. When we have a strong community of close family and friends we can find joy in the worst of circumstances and in the depths of problems. We can navigate the most tempestuous waters by the side of those around us.
Our residents, most of them, tire from the challenges in their health need that relationship, need that joy. On this regard we become Ushers of Joy. Never underestimate the power of a smile, an encouraging word, a compassionate look, a touch of a hand, a “hello”… et; for all of these are expressions of human connection that bring warm joy to the residents’ hearts.
When the time to close their eyes for the last time arrives, we will feel the satisfaction of having ushered destiny and joy to people like ourselves. Their families and friends will feel honored and at peace that their loved ones were well taken care of.
I am always encouraged by all of you who daily extend a hand of care to our residents and their families, may the Lord continue bless you and may His strength rest upon you always.