Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shepastor: “Selah: Communication Without Words”

Habakkuk 2:20
But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The term, Selah is a Hebrew musical instruction that the choir- master used to instruct those singing the psalms to pause, reflect and meditate upon what was just said or sung. We are so quick to speak. Silence, however, can be powerful. Often we fear the awkwardness of silence. Sometimes, silence is a requirement. Sometimes silence is what is needed to appreciate the beauty and splendor of what the Lord has to offer us in the moment. Today in Shepastor I share an experience I had years ago while serving as a hospital chaplain. Words would not work. Communication had to happen another way.

Read on and be blessed…

Communication with out Words

As I visited patients one day, the unit social worker came and asked if I would spend some time with a particular patient. “I think she’d really appreciate a visit from you. When she was a little girl she experienced an accident that literally melted a portion of her brain. Her condition has gotten progressively worse. She’s lost most of her speech, but she does express emotion.” “I’d be happy to visit her.”

Down the hall I went, not quite sure what to expect as I entered the room. As I approached the patient’s bedside, she looked at me and smiled –not a vacant expression, but a true acknowledgement of my presence. She had a beautiful face, freshly braded hair and painted fingernails. It was evident that she was well loved and cared for. “Hi, my name is Chris. I’m the chaplain. May I sit with you for a while?”

She smiled and nodded her head, “yes.” “I came to see how you are doing.” She immediately began to express noises, “um, ah, ah, um…” as if they were words. She looked at me, made gestures with her hand like she was telling me how she was doing (it reminded me of the conversations I have with my baby daughter as she communicates with her own language and I respond as if I understand what she’s saying.)

On her lap lay a clip board with a black and white picture of butterflies. On the tray was a glad bag with colored pencils. She’d made an attempt to color one butterfly, but couldn’t quite control her hands to press the pencil against the paper. She lifted the bag and attempted to hand it to me. “Oh, would you like me to help you color?” She smiled and nodded yes. I took the pencils and began to color a butterfly. Soon she raised her hand again like she wanted to try. She tried to reach in the bag and select another color. She struggled to pull out red. I helped place the pencil in her hand and she gently, awkwardly scribbled a few lines on the page. I then took a few other colors and began to color the other butterfly. She stared at me. I stopped coloring and lifted my hand, spreading my fingers like a five. She lifted her hand as well. I then placed my fingers against hers and pressed my palm against hers. She smiled and pressed back.

We sat for a moment, smiling together. I began to color again. When finished with my butterfly, I wrote a note on the bottom of the paper, “Susie is as beautiful as a butterfly.” She smiled and looked flattered. I said a brief prayer with her, thanked her for allowing me to sit with her and to color and helped place her things back on the tray. No words were exchanged that day, but lots of wonderful things were communicated.

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Until next Wednesday
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,
Pastor Chris

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