I was thinking about the idea of power within powerlessness, strength within surrendering. A training idea brought forth by the Hospice of Western Reserve made an impression upon me, relatable through my experience with my father in his passing and incapacitating multi-year struggle with invalidity. A patient suffers from a loss of control. The words of Shakespeare pronounce with veracity: “Out, out, brief candle! Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Medical authorities impose upon the patient: regimenting schedule, activities, and even the most private of moments is intruded upon. For many, familial support causes complications and a further loss of control, a complete intrusion of privacy. Within the overwhelming reality of dying, the patient experiences a total lack of control. Nothing they think or desire matters. In spirit, they are rendered destitute and alone. A basic necessity in establishing and maintaining mental vigor for the patient is to know they have control. Some aspect of their life belongs solely to their thoughts and voice. It was stressed this is where a volunteer can prove crucial. If I walk into a room and the television is blaring, I should not assume control, even politely asking the patient if he could turn the TV down. It just may be the patient feels so helpless, alone, and lacking control that the television being loud is their rebellion to everything happening to them. It is spiritual. Within the loneliness and overwhelming struggles of life we are rendered powerless, yet to the highest degree we possess the ultimate power of determining eternity. It was a marvelous revelation as I sat being instructed in order to bring the Rosary to the Hospice of the Western Reserve. A great gift I can offer the patient is a sense of empowerment; putting aside my intentions, judgments, and assumptions, while being fully present to their thoughts and needs. Truly presenting Christ to them, not my interpretations, nor my perceived clever thoughts needing to define Christ. Allow the patient to bring Christ into his heart, soul and mind himself. Allow the patient to reveal his own faith, hope, and charity; to expand the virtues through his own efforts and spiritual exercises. Simply and fully, be there in mind, body, and spirit, absolutely open and inviting, asking nothing from the patient.
It is most important that, when you choose to sacrifice yourself, you see the positive side of renunciation, rather than the negative. Instead of speaking of annihilation of self, speak of the coming of Christ in you, the growing of Christ in you. It is more uplifting and results in a devotion which is less tense and less vulnerable to pride, a devotion which is sunnier, more gracious and more understanding of others. –Father Albert Peyriguere ‘Voice from the Desert’