Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Ministry of Presence

By Sr. Judy Donohue, SC Federation Temporary Professed

      Click HERE to learn more about the SC Federation

      Click HERE to learn more about Judy

In my position as Life Enrichment (Activity) Assistant at Forest Springs Health Campus, in northern Jefferson County (Louisville, KY), I am very blessed to minister with residents during the Golden years of their lives. I also meet younger people during times of rehabilitation. All these people are vulnerable and are experiencing many of life’s transitions; the death of spouses, children or siblings, leaving your long time familiar home, health challenges, for instance: a stroke which may take away your right or left side muscle function, speech, etc. It can all be overwhelming.

It is a privilege to minister to these people and honor them as treasured children of God: to offer a smile, a hug or a listening ear to someone who’s world maybe turning upside down. This ministry is very challenging, diverse and fulfilling. My ministry includes leading exercises, arts and crafts, and sing-a-longs. I enjoy assisting with Happy hour when an entertainer comes in and preforms. I serve the snacks and refreshments. This is always an uplifting time. During Bingo, I may tell a joke to lighten the atmosphere. I do activity assessments as well as recruit people to come to all our activities. I’m getting to know the staff, offering them needed encouragement too.

God is showing me as I do activities for the residents I am also to be fully present to listening to their unsaid needs. What does “being present” mean anyway? I had a friend who was recently in the hospital. I visited her. I wanted to do things for her but she just wanted me to be with her. Deep down I knew being with her was what God was asking of me. God who is always fully present to us does not need to be doing anything. God does not need to achieve.

How can I be fully present to others without looking at my cell phone or wondering what is the next thing I need to get done? Let’s use Jesus as our example of being present to others. He gave his full attention, was interested in their needs. He knew their heart and provided for them. God is all ears. We are always in God’s full attention. S/He has no agenda nor distractions. I serve God by being present to others. I pray to be 100% interested in who I am being with today.

As I have often been challenged to live in the now, I’m understanding deeper what that means. To me it means not dwelling in the past or future but being fully aware and enjoying the present; making the most of today, this moment, enjoying the gifts of slowing down and taking time for the residents. One residents shared how she missed her church family, I affirmed how hard that is. Another resident’s daughter shared about her son’s overdose. I offered a prayer of comfort. By slowing down, I’m hearing what people need to say. Thank God for the gift of the ministry of presence.

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