Life’s Lessons

Responding to shock

I didn’t see or hear the entire newscast, only enough to know something drastic is happening at the nursing home where Kelly and I volunteer. In my own mind, I wondered and questioned what I had heard. Reportedly, the news was “all over Facebook” and in the newspaper as well – neither of which I saw.

Then I received a letter giving a brief explanation – Little Sisters of the Poor, who have owned, staffed, and operated the home for many years feels the need to close this particular home. They are in negotiations to sell it to another Catholic group who will then take over ownership, staffing, programming, everything.

The ever-present Sisters will be gone. Theirs is always such a calming, quieting presence. It was they who kept vigil the last night of my friend’s life, they who were singing as she joined them by humming her final breath on earth the next morning.

Residents, staff, and volunteers are always welcome to seek their quiet demeanor and caring attitude. And some of them regularly seek out Kelly’s presence, too.

I really didn’t want to go there this Monday morning, as is our routine. How much difference would I see already? This reluctance was magnified when I found the parking lot used by volunteers and visitors virtually empty. Then, the receptionist was not in her place. Oh, there was a receptionist, but not the usual lady .

I stopped and chatted with the Activities Director who got us started volunteering there. She, too, was feeling the turmoil and unrest. Then I went on my rounds of the residents’ rooms still wondering how much difference I would see.

Surprisingly, the residents were mostly quiet about the changes to take place. There had been an informational meeting open to all, so they were informed; but only two of them asked “Did you hear the news?” and then said nothing more about it.

I’m sure they are wondering. How soon will this take place? When will they begin to see changes? Will their resident priest still hold regular services? Services they could attend by television if they were unable to leave their room.

Then, of course, the questions affecting daily living – will the cost change significantly? Will the food change? If so, for better or worse? Will there be someone to reassure them when they have need, as the Sisters have done?

The Sisters were not in evidence yesterday as usual. I saw only one as I was ready to leave. I’m sure they were spending quiet time in their own quarters trying to come to terms with the changes ahead. Wondering where they will be sent. Wondering what lies ahead for them.

There is always uncertainty about tomorrow. In fact, to come right down to the nitty-gritty, we have no promise of tomorrow. We had best make our lives count today.

What is God asking of you today? Are you listening? Tomorrow may not come for either you or me. We must be ready to face eternity. There is only one way to be sure of spending eternity in heaven. That is trusting Jesus today, while time lasts.

Responding to shock