By Greg Schmidt, hospice chaplain
I can hear a few birds talking to one another outside my office window. A Grackle is squawking that no one has dropped a sandwich in the parking lot in a long time. Sparrows are chirping about how greedy the Grackles are anytime there is any food to be found. An Oriole is singing about who in the neighborhood has recently refilled their bright orange Oriole feeder with Welch’s Grape Jelly!
How do I know what they’re saying? It’s easy. For more hours than I’ll confess to, I sit and watch and listen to lots of birds while relaxing on my deck. (Secretly I’m trying to become the next St. Francis of Assisi because I want birds to come and sit on my shoulder or perch on my hand!) Trust me. Every bird out there is either in a never-ending search for food or whining because there isn’t any. The distinctive sounds each species makes before vs. after they’ve eaten make that clear!
Interestingly, the Bible says God provides for the needs of the sparrow, but that doesn’t mean those little chirpers can just set back and have it delivered. Sure, it’s there. Available. But they must go in search of it! How do I know? Because there are many homeowners joyfully providing a good deal of outdoor TLC for our little feathered friends.
And there’s lots of indoor TLC among old and new friends too! Why is that important? Because you and I – aka “humanity” – are in a never-ending search for love, or identifying why there is a lack of it. I’m happy to report that the longer I spend time with my Heart & Soul Hospice family, the more I understand and appreciate what hospice employees offer to the world at their doorstep! Love. Compassion. The opportunity to discover peace of mind (for the patient and the employee), a helping hand, a forgiving and encouraging spirit. Grace. Mercy. Patience for patients and their families. Generosity. Pay it forward attitudes and actions. A gentle touch. A shoulder to cry on. Fellow burden-bearers and prayer warriors.
One day, while teaching those following Him how to care for those around them, Jesus said, “We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me. Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.” (Matthew 10:40-42; The Message).
I believe it’s important not to limit the meaning of Jesus’ words to the realm of evangelism (becoming or developing disciples). Why? Because the foundation of this particular teaching has significant ramifications for how it is you and I approach the world at our doorstep (which is my way of saying “everyone … everywhere!”). Like our bird friends, God makes provisions for care that we can all access if we’re willing to search or look for them. Hospice is one such provision. There are lots of hospice employees who are eagerly waiting for the opportunity to share all that hospice care offers. So, pick up the phone. Write an email. Send a text. Don’t get to the point where you feel like you’re in a never-ending search for someone who will offer you that proverbial “cool cup of water.” If you’re looking for the kind of “water” people needing hospice are searching for, Heart & Soul Hospice is here to share all that we have with you. Please, accept our help. Search for us and we’ll find you. We’re available to serve you at your doorstep.
P.S. If you don’t provide your Orioles with “Welch’s Grape Jelly,” according to Jonas, the husband of a past patient, they will come tap on your kitchen window and tell you to go back to the store and get Welch’s, not Smuckers or some other imitator. They’re VERY finicky Grape Jelly snobs. Just thought you’d want to know.