There are a number of professions that can be undertaken in life that help us to discover practical ways of compassionately serving others, I was fortunate enough to discover that learning through nursing.
I was 17 years old having just finished my HSC when I started my training through the hospital
system. It was an apprenticeship style learning where we studied and then found our way in practice on the wards in alternating blocks.
I discovered I had entered into a public institution that was a mix of military style precision, religious order titles of sister complete with the veil of graduation and the rigour of scientific practice and research. I remember reading how I was to administer the latest Chemotherapy trial, while feeling the odd pressure to have every one of my patients bed bathed and “presentable” for the doctor and matrons rounds, sheets toe tucked and mitered at the corners. Although I was often run off my feet, unable to take a meal break I had entered this learning with a keen sense of providing more than the latest medicine could offer. I learned that you can give on the go.
I was taught that every patient had a name and I was to learn their name, remember it and use it. I was to always introduce myself at the beginning of a shift and to introduce myself to relatives and visitors. I learned that a smile can help, that care is communicated in touch a hand held a shoulder touched. I learned everyone has a story and caring for people gives an opportunity to care about the life of a person, to listen beyond words.
I remember praying and asking God to show me how to serve as he would. I read that day about Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, a humble simple act, something that had been overlooked. I decided to wash the feet of the bed ridden patients on the ward. As I put the feet of a life weathered old man into a warm soapy bowl of water, his deep sigh said it all and I understood then how the simple moments of kindness can minister deeply.
I still ask God that same question today … How can I serve those I meet as you would? Today it meant, stopping in at a hospital to hold my friend who is trying to find the way through the vigil of her mother’s imminent death, we stood together and massaged her mums hand with rose hand cream and prayed and cried.
What do I see when I look again into the manager of Christmas, a life born and given, humility that sees what is overlooked, days filled with simple powerful acts for us to follow and then of course the gift which none of us could give a death and resurrection to a new life eternal.
Kath is one of Gods girls. Co-senior pastor of Northridge Vineyard Church in Thornleigh, Sydney with husband Phil. Mum to Beth (Mother love to Beth's husband Sean) and Sam. South Pacific Regional Co-ordinator for Tirzah International (Investing in Women - Changing the World) Community Chaplain for Karios Outside (a ministry to women who have been impacted by a significant others imprisonment). Speaker and Writer.