Never Give Up – I’m OK!
This is the very positive statement that I was happy to hear from people including: a miner who had rescued or “pulled out” people trapped in coal mines after accidents; a well-known campaigner for individual human rights; leaders of international business and those who were the most inspirational, the everyday people from the Gold Coast who were facing significant health challenges. Completion of the Clinical Pastoral Care Education Program (CPE) on Wednesdays and Fridays at the Gold Coast University Hospital during my Formation years , presented me with an amazing opportunity during training sessions and visits with patients to build supportive relationships, listen to people sharing their stories and using their own spirituality to make meaning in their lives, and learning how to facilitate people’s spiritual journey.
The understanding of health in this hospital and the multi-faith pastoral care unit, to which I was attached as a chaplain, was not limited to physical well-being, but included spiritual, psychological and physiological well-being or wholeness. A 2007 study showed how the mind and spirit impacts the physical health of a person. It was found that spiritual care helps patients to deal better with their illness. It provides a sense of direction, new hope and inner peace, allowing patients to accept and cope with problems that cannot be solved. Most patients in the study acknowledged that spirituality was an important part of their lives, providing a source of strength, hope and well-being, especially during illness or loss.
Of course, it is not only during illness that our spirituality provides us with inspiration, comfort, strength and a sense of peace. Music, the beauty of nature and quiet time in a sacred space have a role in our own spiritual journeys. The beautiful music in our church services played by Anne, the songs led by our singers provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the spiritual content and message of a piece of music. This music, prayers and the sermon enable us to experience peace and renewal through Christ, in order to face the challenges of our lives. I really enjoy sharing in this opportunity for reflection.
I have been inspired by and grateful for what members of the congregation have been able to teach me. As we would expect, spirituality depends upon an individual’s personal interpretation or worldview, which affects the way each of us approaches life, our relationships and the choices we make. Today we will experience an example of how the shrewd manager dealt with and responded to the significant challenge of losing his job and being unsure of what work would be available for him in the future.
Wherever we are spirituality and whatever we ask God for during our lives, the words of Richard Rohr “The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See”, encourage positive feelings about ourselves and our journeys. He wrote that asking for something from God means awakening the gift within ourselves, as something we have already begun to taste, because the gift has already been given. Do we know that we have already been given these gifts and that we are OK, that actually we are all able to be doing fine?
Yours in Christ
Van Leeuwen Rene (2007) ‘Aspects of spirituality concerning illness: empirical studies’, Nordic College of Caring Science, Scandanavia.