My Dearest Breanna,
Mae gave me minute-by-minute updates of the beautiful graduation service for your nursing school. My heart and spirit were so moved by this accomplishment. Indeed, as I learned of your convocation prayer and of the kindly Roman Catholic sister praying for healing in your hands, I lifted my prayer, also, to seek the Lord that He might seal this momentous occasion with His Spirit so that what is done on earth is recorded forever in heaven; for His providential guidance to you in your many acts of ministry in His name; a prayer that God’s anointing may come down upon you and mediate His healing power through your mind, heart, and hands; and a prayer of thanks that He chose you—and you have honored your family—to reveal, in you, a sign of His love and coming total redemption—a redemption already underway through the life, death, burial, resurrection, and glorious ascension of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, and, yet, still to come in its fullness when He comes again. Your inspirational dedication and your unending labors in love for others remind me of not only Florence Nightingale (“Nursing is an art…a Fine Art), but, also, and maybe especially, of that founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton (1821-1912), that angel of the battlefield during the blood-stained years of our tragic national experience, the American Civil War. Nurse Barton uttered words that speak to the diligence, education, compassion, and love that are required of a nurse and words that make me think of you:
“The door that nobody else will go in at, seems always to swing open widely for me.”
That is the harder door of late nights of studying chemistry formulas, of emptying bed pans at three O’clock in the morning, or placing your hand upon the brow of an elderly patient, to bring hope and human sympathy and unexpected grace, when no one is looking. Indeed, most of the time there is no nursing supervisor looking in to give you the grade you deserve, no accolades from your peers, and, certainly no extra pay (though you all deserve more, even what we cannot pay with gold). This is a hard door, indeed, but one that you have chosen. And as you walk through that door of difficulty you bring blessing to broken humanity. Let me be one person to pause and thank you. I thank you for walking through that door. I believe that it is the risen Christ I see through you.
In my own life of pastoral ministry I look back to some of the most significant moments of rare, pure heaven that came as I helped a feeble, shaking hand hold the cup of salvation in a nursing home room. The walls of photographs told a story of a life out there because she was in here. I recall the times when it was I that fumbled the bread as I tried to place it in the hand of a dying man. I remember once that as I conducted a private worship service in a nursing home I was leading our singing of a hymn and I forgot the next verse. But they didn’t. The residents helped me through. And I realize, now, that those moments in ministry are sacred. I believe that you, too, will know such heaven on earth, so often disguised in the worn garb of age or affliction. Yet when you are older, yourself, you will bless God for such moments.
Nothing I could say could add to the vision that you have acted on for your own life, a vision of compassionate healing that is a true imitation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, of whom it was written:
“And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people( Matthew 4:23 ESV).
So as I write these few words I trust you will know of the love beneath it all. And to say “I am proud of you” is true, yet cannot even begin to express the joy and the hopeful vision for healing in our generation. So take up your vocation and walk with Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton and the innumerable host of others, names known only to God, past and present, who serve God by serving others. Join the angels in white who walk the corridors of time giving God’s care to the bodily temples where His Spirit resides.
Congratulations, Bre, and know that I am, now and always, with tender affection, and grandfatherly love
Your Loving Poppy