I shared that poem with a colleague here in Canberra, Charles Foley, who returned the following comment and quote (in the next paragraph) in response: It bears repeating, when we meditate on our chaplaincy opportunity to serve humanity, that we are profoundly blessed by the effects the patients can have on us as fellow travelers on the shared journey of Life:
"It was not until the summer after his first year in the seminary that he (Howard Thurman) finally made the decision to be ordained. The moment of truth came while he was serving as assistant to the minister of a Baptist church in Virginia, taking over pastoral duties while the minister was on vacation. On his first night in the parsonage, he received a call from the local hospital, where a patient who was dying had asked for a minister. Thurman explained to the nurse that the regular minister was away, and she asked him if he was a minister. "In one kaleidoscopic moment I was back again at an old crossroad," Thurman remarked in his autobiography. " A decision of vocation was to be made here, and again I felt the ambivalence of my life and my calling. Finally I answered. 'Yes, I am a minister.'" "
Somewhere along the way I edited and adapted Thurman's piece (updated a couple of words with synonyms, added in the last three lines, and made the language inclusive throughout) so I want to share this once again, with a slightly different title:
"The Real Work of Christmas"
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with the flocks,
then the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal those broken in spirit,
to feed the hungry,
to release the oppressed,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among all peoples,
to make a little music in the heart
to radiate the Light of Christ every day
in all that we do and in all that we say…
Then the real work of Christmas begins!
(Adapted by Clair Hochstetler from "The Work of Christmas" by Howard Thurman)
Now, click here to enjoy the 2008 version of my annual animated Christmas card! (It includes music & artwork by the renowned English artist, Jacquie Lawson.)
Grace and peace,