Some of you know that my call to ministry emerged from my experiences of struggle and support after being diagnosed with cancer soon after my 13th Birthday. I was treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and related complications for much of the time between 1970 – 1976. And I learned some hard, but unforgettable lessons about the power of love and compassion.
Just two weeks ago, I made another Pilgrimage to St. Jude. (Three years ago I wrote a blog while still in Memphis.) As one of their earliest and oldest patients (I’m getting close to my 50th year as a cancer survivor), it was an honor and privilege to be a part of their research on long-term survivors of childhood cancer. During those three days of tests and conversations, I experienced again that sense of homecoming, where the deepest parts of my calling in ministry were rooted and grounded, and where every turn seemed to bring a soulful connection with those around me.
The Beloved Community that is St Jude’s is what I think of most when I think of Jesus’ commandment for us to “love one another.” It is a community where vulnerability seems to call forth a natural, life-changing power of compassion and hope. Almost everyone there has a heart that has been broken open. And through the power of compassion, healing, soulful support and deep gratitude often flow with each breath. The Holy Spirit is busy weaving it’s healing Way of Wisdom into each moment here. It is Holy Ground.
Now, looking forward to the big event at our church this Friday with Teepa Snow, I pause to consider the “Positive Approach to Care” that she advocates. As I think about the vulnerability people often experience with dementia, I wonder if this Positive Approach to Care could open us to the power of compassion and soul care as I experienced at St. Jude. If we could let our “be in control egos” just relax a bit into God’s grace, perhaps our vulnerabilities could open us to witness deep soulful connections and stories. As we gather this Friday, perhaps it can be an important step in becoming not only a “Dementia Friendly City” but also a “Soul Friendly City.”. And perhaps along with that, we can grow to a deeper understanding and commitment to the all-important commandment that we “love one another.”
Grace and peace on your soulful journey,
Associate Pastor of Spiritual Formation