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Those who know me will know that one of the great struggles – challenges – of my life is to find out how it is that God calls me to live my life according to God’s plan for me; because I do believe in the concept of vocation, the belief that each one of us is called to live our lives in dedication to the service of others. Or as the motto of the Mater Hospitals I’ve recently commenced employment with Pro Deo Et Humanitate – for God and Humanity. I think it was Frederick Buechner who said that a person’s vocation is found when their deepest passion meets the world’s greatest need. Again, those that know me will know of my passion for remote area nursing. Some will say what is the attraction in dust, flies and endless isolation.
I recently undertook a 7 week remote area nursing locum up on the Cape York Peninsula of North Queensland. The community was once an Anglican Mission but is now under the control of the traditional owners. It is here that one can see the same faces of the sick, poor and marginalised that Christ himself walked among. For Jesus, Francis of Assisi and others God exists in these faces and it is our duty to care for all humanity; especially the least among us. It is in these traditional people that I find a closeness with God’s commission; to care for poor and dispossed.
I see them as people who are trying to find a way to live between two worlds. A world of their ancestors and the stories of the dreamtime from whence comes their rich spirituality. And a world of colonisation and the stories of a child who would be King. Living between these worlds seems to have created a place of confusion and disorientation, spiritually, culturally, evolutionally etc. This disorientation has created effects such as poor health, high mortality and morbidity and lack of identity. Part of my sense of calling to be in these communities is a way to be with them in this stuggle. If I can do one thing its ‘to be’.
Presence is perhaps one of the greatest gifts one can offer, indeed the Gospel is replete of the ministry of presence between Jesus and the people the rest of society tried to forget. As a nurse, one of the ways in which I can express presence is to simply be there when someone is sick, hurt or injured. Sometimes, like Jesus at ‘the well’ what we can offer is not only water that gives relief to thirst but might also open the possibility of the acceptance to the offer of ‘life giving water’. It is in these moments of presence that I feel my deepest passion meets the world’s greatest need; at least for the small part of the world I experience. So for me, the time up north was more than a simple locum job, it was a small experience in sensing God’s call for me in my life. I’ll be ever greatful for the welcome I received there and the offer to come again soon. I will, in the mean time, miss being present in that place. For now, its time to experience life in a different world. To experience presence in my new role as an emergency nurse. Perhaps it too will be part of the way in which God continues to reveal God’s divine plan in my life.
Aparently the ‘flavour’ of my last post was cause for concern. Although I stand by what I wrote I do realise that it perhaps speaks more about my experience of God than that of others. But not to dwell on it. Rather I want to share two wonderful quiet moments with God I have had recently. On Sunday night I went to visit some very dear friends which ended up with us having ‘house church’. A concept I quietly cringed at inside. However, when the lights went down and the candles were lit and we began singing some songs, most of which I was not very familiar with, the atmosphere changed and I was happy to be present there. We also read some poems and prayers from a book someone had brought along. One of the most interesting and moving parts of the night was when we decided to stop scoffing at past experiences of church and songs which evoked unpleasant or other memories and to honour the path that had brought us to where we were at now. One of the things I honour is that as a lad raised in the Salvation Army where services were much more personal and introspective, and yes in some respect purposefully emotive, but they were experiences of an intimate and personal relationship with God. I will never forget how they took a broken sad person and made his life meaningful and purposeful. It was a time when even as an 11 year old I knew that my response to God’s love of me would be to share God’s love with others. I knew that one day I would be a minister or priest or as it turns out a religious. When we talked about favourite and or meaningful songs I didn’t feel like sharing my story. I don’t know why, the people there are people who I admire, trust and respect with all my being. I think it was perhaps feeling a little too vulnerable and not wanting to open a crack which might grow into something else.
My song is simple, not too many words
all that you need is a miracle
all that you need can be yours
all that you need is available
the moment you turn to the Lord
As I said, simple, yet to me a powerful and profound statement which really impacted on my life in major way. There was (and perhaps still are) a time when I did need a miracle. Not some profound rise up and walk miracle; but a miracle where I could discover that no matter what the sadness and trials in my life there was one person who loved me – completely and wholly just as I am. And I realised God offered everything I needed. I needed nothing in my life but to be in the presence of God. To learn to love God so deeply in the same way I saw the love between my mom and my dad. To be in love with God. I realised too that this miracle was available and all I had to do was to accept the gift that God was offering. Just like the woman at the well who realised the gift that God was offering through the person of Jesus.
I’m far from the perfect disciple. But which of us is. And I so tire of people who want to put me up as some role model perfect Christian just because I wear a brown dress. But I don’t need to be perfect (just as others should not need me to be perfect) I just need to serve God as best as I can and continue to strive toward that time when I can be so in love with God that we become one.
The other great quiet moment with God was tonight. It was the anniversary of my godson’s baptism. Myself and one of his other godparents and his parents shared a meal together (ps I love Tacos) and then after we sang a brief Taize chant Bless the Lord my soul and lit his Baptismal candle followed by a brief prayer for him and us and a final song The Lord is my light. It was great to honour the anniversary of his Baptism this way (and remind us of our own). But more so, it reminded me of the great honour of being asked to be a godparent. These days it often means nothing. But this little experience showed me that this is an important request and how humbling it is to be asked to walk along side another human being and be able to share ‘our Christian story’ with him that one day he might choose to continue that journey himself.
I’m thankfull for loving friends. Who are my spiritual rocks. Who keep me anchored in the times when the waters are rough and remind me that all that we need to do is turn to God and the seas will be calmed.
So, quiet moments with God can be found in many places. And if you’re reading this and you need a miracle in your life then look around and see that all you need is available, all you need to do is turn to the Lord.