By Loren Hardin –
It’s been several years since Tom died of cancer. He was a good ole country boy, a retired railroader. He and his wife had several adult children who lived nearby. Tom’s house was situated on about an acre lot. The deep back yard gently sloped down to a small creek, bordered by a steep hill on the far side. The yard was spotted with ceramic animals, a bird bath, a wishing well, and a wagon wheel amidst some mature trees. Hanging from an old metal children’s swing set frame was a wooden porch swing, where Tom and I had some memorable conversations.
Tom’s immediate transparency surprised me. Within the first minutes of my initial visit he admitted to episodes of discouragement. But he also quickly pointed to his source of encouragement. He handed me a copy of, “The Healing of the Mind and Soul in the Twenty-Third Psalm”, by Charles Allen. It was a small pamphlet, about four by six inches in size and 22 pages in length. Tom shared, “Whenever I start getting discouraged I read this pamphlet. When you break down the 23rd Psalm and really understand what it means for us to be sheep, and for God to be our shepherd, you get a lot of comfort from it.” It was apparent that Tom didn’t just know the Psalm, he knew the Shepherd.
As I routinely do with hospice patients, I asked Tom and his wife if they had enough help. Tom replied, “If my children waited for me to ask for help, that grass out there would be up to my rear end by now. I don’t have to ask. My kids come in, look around, see and do.”
As time passed, Tom’s condition declined, and he was admitted to our hospice room at the hospital for imminent death. Tom’s family was congregated in a visitor’s waiting area at the end of a corridor near Tom’s room. I shared with his children what Tom told me about their love and support. I admitted to them that their examples were not only inspiring but also convicting, that I was moved to “examine myself” (2 Corinthians 13:5). I asked myself, “Do I come in, look around, see, and do, or do I wait to be called?”
What if we awoke each morning and made it our primary goal to be benevolently responsive to the world around us, to “look around, see and do”, to take away the burden of asking? I believe we would experience exhilaration, and a renewed sense of adventure and spiritual awaking that emanates from being caught up in a purpose greater than ourselves!
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:4)
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at (740) 357-6091 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.