I hung the vestments of my new office of my church, on the front of my lower floor closet door. Every time I pass them, I am reminded of what I undertake. I am honored that I received them as I am learning and questioning my personal spirituality and questioning my fitness to minister to others. My heart full of gratitude for the faith that leaders in my church have placed in me, a very fledgling student of theology. How can they have this much faith in me and my heart when I often cannot find that faith myself, though I seek it and question my heart often?
I am acutely aware that I have one chance to “get this right” in every instance of service much the same as with my work in surgery. The difference between my two vocations is that I had far more training in surgery than my one and a half years of study in the ministry. Still, I have absorbed everything that I can absorb from those with more experience. Experience with absorption comes directly from my surgical training where those more experienced nurtured those who have less. In the manner of apprenticeship, medicine and the ministry have parallels.
Yesterday, I visited a Jewish rehabilitation hospital to see a patient. As I spent time with him, he clung to my connection and visit. As he continues to recover from the most critical of illnesses, his extreme impatience with his body that he feels has largely betrayed him, was quite evident. When I look at him, I see the miraculous will of a man who holds life but he sees a body no longer obeying his commands.I struggled to speak with him as I examined and dressed his wounds.
I see a darker room where a man lives who loves life and all that it has brought him. He sees the beginning of being “ware-housed” in a place where many around him have mental impairments that have rendered them unable to leave the care of this rehabilitation facility. While this is clearly not the case with my patient, he is overwhelmed with feelings of despair.
This visit reminded me that all patients who need extended care are quite diverse thus our out care facilities need to be as diverse.Patients in these facilities desperately need more acute mental activities than less. For this reason, my belief in bringing active participation in the creative arts regularly to this population. There is much that those with cognitive and physical impairments have to give to our society.
Participation, not observation of music, words, painting, photography and acting force the minds of those whose bodies may be impaired is vital. Even for those of us who have no creative talents, those of us who have spent our lives in physical and applied sciences benefit from participation/ exposure to creative arts. As one of those extreme physical scientists, my world has been shaken when my mind is pulled into a dramatic performance or a photograph. My soul is changed forever and better when I make these connections.
I am guessing and asking the question of whether or not my ministry is my mind’s movement or connection with creativity. Is this my creative art? Is this my further connection with humanity? Is this why my vestments represent the honor and privilege of giving my heart to those who need it? For the confidence that the leaders of my church have placed in me, I am forever grateful and humbled. There is magic in my soul when I touch them. I have yet to wear them, I am very afraid.