Let's reflect on the profound lyrics of “ Here I am Lord” by John Talbot.
Here I am Lord
Is it I Lord ?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord
Where you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.
During these unprecedented times of physical distancing and social isolation, we have been given the gift of quiet. Perhaps now, we may hear that small still voice within each of us, guiding our next steps, as we have been catapulted into an abrupt awareness of something greater than ourselves.
A few days ago, Father Don, my great high school friend, whom I still call ‘Donny’, asked me to write a message from a Catholic nurse’s perspective for the church website. Father Don as you know him, has reminded me with humour, on numerous occasions over the past 50 plus years, of how I love to talk ‘ a lot ‘, so I suspect that is why he reached out to me during one of our recent chats.
My name is Marie, and if you have attended the annual parish Spaghetti Dinner, you may have seen me volunteering with Father Don’s family and other friends. It has been my privilege, to be a practicing registered nurse in this province now for almost 50 years, spanning critical care, community nursing, to educator and consultant in Long Term Care for the past 16 years.
You all know the news of Long Term Care grows more grim by the day, with stories of the increasing numbers of deaths, separation, isolation, abandonment, loss and mounting frustration.
As nurses, we must draw on both the art and science of the profession to heal and comfort. The science is vast and well chronicled in the daily news reports. Front line workers, the boots on the ground, battle an invisible enemy. How grateful we all should be to these special souls who help us realize that HOPE IS NOT CANCELLED, and that God is working through them minute by minute. The art has not been lost.
I can only imagine how many Catholic health care workers, now have their rosaries tucked safely in their uniform pockets, beneath the isolation garb.
Living in Caledonia, I am only about eight kilometers away from the Hagersville Long Term and Retirement Care home which is being tracked by national TV with an alarming number of Covid19 deaths and infections.
In fact, in the late 90’s, my own mother and her twin sister lived out their final days with dignity, in that very home surrounded by loving care givers. As a nurse, I was afforded the opportunity to provide care until their last minutes on this earth, to comfort, nurture and pray with them. But that was then, and now it is 2020. Different management, changed legislation, changed attitudes, the multiple shifting challenges and priorities reveal a very different picture, in this one example alone.
The wrath of this pandemic has unleashed the ‘perfect storm” in health care, sadly, to no surprise of those directly connected. Pandemic plans existed, strong warnings of potential crisis existed, staffing shortages existed, inadequate funding for staff and supplies existed. Corporate greed and soaring profits existed. The lack of truth and transparency existed. Disrespect for human life existed, while elderly loved ones witnessed the perfect storm fast approaching; their gaze fixed on their caregivers for protection.
Data and modelling are presented and analyzed daily to inform decision making to map the best way forward, we hope. Buried within that data though, are the souls of the afflicted, their families, and the increasing numbers of the poor and marginalized we now are forced to witness in our lifetime.
We hear of the ‘new normal’. Should we fear its arrival, when our former world normalized the ‘unholy Trinity’ as Father Don so perfectly describes as “ Me, Myself and I” ?
The new normal is unknown, and that which is unknown can be feared.
When we see and hear about amazing acts of mercy and kindness in these times, which appear to be growing in number, lets take comfort. Let these acts awaken our awareness and strengthen our resolve to change what we can, while we can.
It’s not too late to find our voices and advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves. To demand better, while demonstrating the ‘new normal’ by our own examples. It is too late right now to blame ministries, legislation, governments and corporations. That said, we must demand a reckoning when this pandemic is over, and force increased accountabilities to prevent more devastating future events.
Respect for life must be at the centre of our being. We are all one. So, if we started to look at everyone we met going forward as“ Jesus ” what could the new world look like ?
In the meantime, volunteer or donate what you can, if you are able. Above all do what is free… PRAY. Pray that hearts are permanently awakened and touched, so that the right way forward is made clear.
We must take the road less traveled now, or we may not be given a second chance.
Shine your light, touch a heart, find your inner voice and advocate for what you already know to be right, one act at a time.
Let’s all embrace the precious gift of time now to regroup in the trenches, with clarity of purpose and the knowledge that we are all in the palm of God’s hand.
Many of our elderly, have become ‘war heroes’ some twice, in their lifetime. They are paying the ultimate price. Let us begin to honour that price with our actions as we are led.
Marie Ibbotson R.N.