We Are Worthwhile...
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...a notion about being ‘worthwhile’ by Fr. Keith Gorman, a Columban Missionary from the Far East Magazine.
When I was chaplain to the sisters and residents of Nazareth House, a retirement home in Sydney, Australia, the notion about being worthwhile grew in my heart. Most of the residents were quite contented but some were not, because they thought they could not do anything worthwhile. In their past they had cared for their children or had some trade or profession. Now they could no longer do these things; as a result they believed that they were no longer worthwhile in themselves. This idea became abhorrent to me: I became convinced of the opposite – that we can grow as persons, grow spiritually, as long as we live.
This is the work of God whom I like to think of as the Divine Potter. Now and then a vessel he is making from clay will be spoilt in his hands but he will remould it into another vessel to his liking. (Jer 18:2-4) I love the saying, ‘Be patient with me; God hasn’t finished with me yet!’. Maybe sometimes the Divine Potter will have to start again but I’m convinced the Divine Potter will make us into worthy vessels. This conviction that we are worthwhile in ourselves strengthened as I got to know the patients in the retirement home. I saw the help they needed with eating, dressing, having a bath and going to the toilet. I understood the spirituality of accepting this but I hesitated to speak of it to the Patients because I myself was not dependent in this way. One day, while we were all still together after Mass, one of the assistants opened up the matter for discussion. Sadie, one of the patients who was unable to walk, hold a knife or fork, or care for herself because of arthritis, said simply that she had reached the stage where she could accept these services peacefully and gratefully. She prayed for those who did them for her. On another occasion Sadie told me that when she is put into bed at night she usually goes to sleep quickly but if she is unable to sleep, she spends the time thanking God for all the good things in her life. Sadie had been purified by suffering and is like pure gold. (Book of Wisdom 3:5-9). The acceptance of disability such as Sadie’s arthritis will let us enter into the suffering of Jesus.
I heard another beautiful statement in the nursing home. Jimmy had had a stroke and made a fairly good recovery but was still confined to a wheelchair. I discussed with him why he hadn’t died and we concluded that God wanted him to live longer. “Why did God want you to live longer?” I asked. “To do good.” said Jimmy. “What good can you do?” I asked. Smiling, he looked around at the other patient and said, “I can help to make them happy.”
When we are young and strong we can help to care for the physical well-being of others. Later we cannot but at any stage of our lives we can be loving, kind, sensitive, forgiving, honest and truthful. Even if we lack money, power, strength even health; we can still be ‘worthwhile’ as were Sadie and Jimmy. Fundamentally we are worthwhile because we are children of God. Fr. Keith’s parting comment was, “I often think of a fellow Columbian Fr. Edward Sherry from Bolton, England, who died in Australia in August 2006. Towards the end of his life he was cared for by the Little sisters of the poor in Melbourne, Australia. Shortly before he died one of the staff who was going away for two weeks said, “I’ll see you when I get back.” Eddie replied with a smile, “I may have changed my address by then.”
Published Tue 4th Oct 2016 15:11:28
Last Modified on Tue 4th Oct 2016 15:12:01