Rev. Paul McCleary
God guides us to where God wants us to be.
A friend of mine refers to himself as a chaplain to yard sales. “It used to be that a yard sale was the way you disposed of things you no longer needed or wanted. It might have meant that the children were all grown and it was time to sell the crib and baby bed. But times have changed. Yard sales are now often a sign of foreclosure. In the last three or four years, more people have held yard sales because they have to move and downsize. It is not like it used to be.” It’s common to find a yard sale after a family has split up and there is often a lot of pain involved. A quick look around tells lot. If there are several high tag items: a large screen TV, a stereo set, or a kitchen appliance, it may mean the bread-winner has lost his job and the family is hard pressed for cash. In this scenario, they’re giving up treasured items so they can get the most money possible.
Usually, it only takes a question like, “Are you moving away?” for someone to share their story about the loss of a house, lack of employment, or excess debt on credit cards. He visits yard sales and is always prepared to listen to their story and offer a word of encouragement. He doesn’t miss a chance to evangelize.
Another friend volunteers several times a week at the ER of the Children’s Hospital. She says, “You’d never believe the condition in which some of the infants and children are in when they arrive at the ER. Some have been abused or battered by adults while others are malnourished and underweight. They look as if they have been starved to death.” When I asked what she does there, she said, “anything that needs doing, even moving supplies from the storeroom.” She’s frequently assigned to an infant or small child just to hold them for a few hours. The child she is currently assigned to is a baby girl who was born at the hospital five months ago and has never left.
The hospital provides medication, but what she provides through volunteering is a sense of security and love for each child she is assigned to hold.
A third friend calls himself a hospice chaplain. The hospice program is meant to help dying people approach death in a meaningful and dignified way. “Families usually reject conversations about death because they want the person to live. Usually the person dying is more realistic and wants to talk about things left undone, final wishes, expectations, guilt, or remorse.” Hospice chaplains work through those issues with them and their families.
The people in hospice are basically beyond having physical needs but they do have spiritual needs. “It’s important to know they usually just want to talk with someone who will listen and understand. There is a moment when people are more open to the Good News than at any other time, and it may be the only opportunity you have to share a word of hope.”
Each of these three friends has discovered that there are people all around us who are hurting and need help. Each one has acquired skills through what they are doing, but didn’t require special skills when they started. Each would tell you they feel God has led them to do what they are doing. Each would say this is where God wants them to be.
For those who serve others, as these three are doing, offer them the “Blessing of the Hands.” It is a simple ritual of anointing the hands with olive oil and offering a prayer for all of the lives who will be touched by these hands—that they may experience the love of God.