From the very first day of May 2016, when my youngest brother was in an car accident, was admitted in a hospital, and died the following Sunday May, 8th 2016 (when the whole world was celebrating the Mother’s day, my mother lost her son), until the middle of the month of September, 2016, a time when my oldest brother passed away in the hospital because of an illness, the hospital had become a second home for my family, especially for my mom.
During this period of time my mother spent a lot of time with my brothers next to their bed in the hospital, although they could not communicate, especially my youngest brother who was in a coma during his hospitalization, yet even still but she was there next to them all the time, fully PRESENT.
In the days after the death of my two brothers, four months apart from each other, all of my family members were going through a very tough time. I did not know whether I should console myself first, and then take care of my family, or take care of my family without taking the time to mourn.
I was advised by my spiritual director, to not say or do anything, but to instead be present and listen to those around me. To truly listen to what the members of my family would say, and what my heart said to me. In the following days, the very first person that I was really present to, was myself. In the following three months I would feel so much better when I was present to myself. Secondly, the group of people I decided to help was my own family. It worked very well. Six months later we were all at a stage where we could talk about my two brothers and openly describe our emotions and feelings. I realized then how important non-verbal communication is: where one listens not with ears only, but with the HEART, in order to be fully present to what the other person says and shares.
I do not feel that I did anything extraordinary, but I learned the skill of doing ordinary things in extra-ordinary way. I just listened on the phone when my family was sharing their feelings and emotions. I was simply PRESENT to them. Present to them fully. And I think the CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) that I am beginning this semester is actually a place where one learns the Art of how to be fully present to the one who needs us the most.
Jeremiah 8:21-22 (NRSV)
For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt,
I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?
The words of Prophet Jeremiah remind us all that we need to be the BALM and PHYSICIAN for those who are in need of healing, healing from all kinds of sickness. It can be done only when each of us say like Prophet Jeremiah that, “For the hurt of my people I am hurt”. I believe that if I can make a difference, we all can make a difference. We only need to learn the ART of being fully PRESENT. Present to ourselves first, in order to be restored, and then to those who are in need of being restored. This is what Jesus did and this is what He asks us to do. It requires us to become the body of Christ. We have the compassion of Christ, the heart of Christ, the soul of Christ, and most importantly, the love of Christ.
I would like to finish my reflection by quoting St Teresa of Avila’s words:
“Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which,
he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
I am ready to learn the ART of Being fully PRESENT. Are you?
*Editor's Note: In January, 2018, Br. Adnan began his CPE program at Sharp Memorial Hospital, where he will serve for the next five months in a healthcare setting and gain the important pastoral skills needed to minister to those in need in healthcare facilities.*