“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.” —Luke 24:1.
I am preparing to present a workshop at the International Community of Hope conference this summer in Texas. Community of Hope began out of a need to train those who are not ordained to be hospital chaplains at St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston. The training program is now used all over the world for people interested in visiting the sick and homebound. I have been involved in the Community of Hope in our diocese for more than twenty years, and continue to see it as outstanding preparation and study for anyone called to a ministry involving pastoral care. One of the hallmarks of the training is that it is steeped in Benedictine spirituality.
The image of the Community of Hope Chaplains that keeps coming to me is that of the “myrrh bearers,” the women who brought spices to the tomb of Jesus on that early Easter morning. They brought their most precious resources to honor the one who had cared for them. My experience is that this has also been the story for many of those called to the ministry of pastoral care. They know what it is like to be wounded, and they have been ministered to by other healers. They understand what it is like to be loved and cared for by others. Their only way of sharing and continuing and keeping that love is to carry what they have learned to someone else.
What happens with the myrrh bearers’ visit is something totally unexpected. They go to honor their friend and teacher and instead they are promised a new life, a resurrection in this life and the next.
I have never experienced a visit at which I did not receive resurrection. We are touched and healed by those we go to visit. We take our most precious possessions, ourselves, our time, our presence, and make an offering. In return we always meet the resurrected Christ in so many forms.
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