Thursday, July 30, 2009
The science of medicine is always of interest to me. When I was discerning my professional vocation, Nursing held the first place in my heart. The story about Florence Nightingale was an ideal that captured my interest, but that was not the reason why the nursing profession attracted me. In the book “Imitation of Christ” there is a chapter on Charity. The book contains a picture of a Sister giving drink to a patient. The caption reads: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to Me.” It seems then that my vocation was just revealed to me- to continue the healing ministry of Christ. Carmel is my first spiritual home. I was brought to Carmel the year I graduated from college. I learned of its Saints, its history and its vocation. The call to the Consecrated Life is the greatest gift God can ever bestow to someone. But the call to be a Carmelite Religious is overwhelming. It is also a most humbling one because Carmel boasts of great Saints for its sons and daughters and of an Order particularly dedicated to the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
As a nurse, I am standing on top of a mountain called “Carmel.” What do I see? I see faces disfigured by pain and years of sufferings. I see bodies worn out by life’s passing years. I hear voices calling out for someone dear or calling out to someone who will hear. The chaos and noise of a busy day would not be so different from the bedlam that occurred in the towns of Galilee, Capernaum and surrounding villages of Judea. From the top of the mountain I see Jesus passing by in the person of caring people- doctors, nurses, volunteers, care-givers, visitors and Sisters. The healing ministry is not just bandaging wounds or healing fractured bones. The body may heal but the spirit may still remain broken. The healing ministry cares for body and soul.
From the top of the mountain, I see smiles, laughter and happiness, radiating from our Residents for the small things they receive. I also witness tears, pain and sufferings brought by illness and aging. I see the good in people who work not so much for the money, but for the satisfaction of bringing happiness to others and serving others. It is a very demanding and challenging vocation. It calls for daily dying to self and forgetfulness of self. It brings out the best in people. It can also reveal the worst in us, the dark shadows and imperfections in us. We learn fast that we are not in control, that life is short and precious, and that Christian death can be a beautiful experience. It witnesses to the joys and pains of the family unit- their trials, their struggle to make sense of what life brings, the strength of family bonds and the unpredictability of human relationships. But it also sees the triumphs of patience over unreasonable demands, fortitude over hopelessness, faith over darkness, fidelity over the ordinary and love over hate and bitterness. The healing ministry is the presence of Christ. There is a famous song attributed to St. Teresa and made famous by the singer John Michael Talbot: "Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which He looks, compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth.. but yours."
So despite personal and professional demands and challenges of the present and future, a Carmelite takes what God provides. She dares to face these challenges knowing in her heart that her Spouse will not embrace anything less. “Where are you hidden, Beloved?” was the sigh of Saint John of the Cross. Contemplating Christ in the faces of the Aged and Infirm - “I have found my Beloved.”