ADVENT by Anthony Massimini, Ph.D
Some years ago I visited a rehab facility for people who suffered from severe accidents, especially head wounds. A nurse took me around to visit the patients, many of whom could hardly lift their heads to see who was there before them. I spoke to each one of them and offered a prayer and blessing for them.
After we finished the rounds, the nurse told me she was going to resign the next day. She said she had trouble coming to work every day because her work had so little success. The job was simply too depressing for her. It was Advent time, and the facility was decorated for Christmas. That made her even more depressed. “What does Christmas mean for my patients?” she asked sadly. “Or for me? I’m not really helping them.”
For a moment I let her sadness touch me. I told her I understood the great challenge she faced. Then I disagreed with her. “You’re here every day,” I said. “So you’re accustomed to seeing your patients. I just saw them for the first time, and I saw something that you’re not seeing.”
Curious, she asked, “What do you mean?”
“As we walked into each room and approached each patient,” I explained, “I saw that each one of them was sitting there in deep sadness and loneliness. But then, as each one of them saw you, they lit up and smiled, obviously happy that you had come to see them–to be with them and minister to them.”
My statement startled her into new awareness. “Well I… Well, I guess I’m so used to them, I don’t notice…”
I continued. “Your patients are like the world at this time of the year, waiting in expectation for Christ to come, to bring joy, peace, new life and salvation. Every day, they live through their own, very personal Advent, and every day you come to them and bring them a Christmas moment of joy and peace. In a way, that’s the most important thing you do for them. For them, you are Christmas. You come to them and stay with them for a while, and because of you, they know anew, every day, that they are not alone.”
I wished her well, and left.
A few weeks later, I returned to the facility for another visit. To my surprise, the nurse was still there. She greeted me with a big smile. “I want to thank you,” she said. “Every day now, I come to work with new joy and a renewed commitment to help my patients as much as I can. I feel like a new person.”
As we look forward to celebrating the coming of Christ, I pray that all of us will find renewed ways to brings joy and peace to the world.