Our doorbell is broken. Certainly no big deal, we thought, until everyone started knocking. If people knock on the door we can't hear them very well. Everyone figured that one out pretty quickly and starting rapping on the glass. We hear that. It's loud enough to wake the dead. Sister St. Aloysius has an over active startle response, so I more or less hear it twice. Once when the person raps on the glass and then the ensuing stifled scream. Or not so stifled scream if she is lost in thought at that moment. Happily for me, my mother was the same way, often screaming, "Oh St. Peter and Paul and all the saints!" My life has prepared me for my life.
Who are these people, this never ending train of humanity? I've mentioned, around Halloween it's the people who need something sewn. Year round there are people who need something sewn, but we have many more at Halloween. You can always tell, because they tend to be a little wild-eyed.
Once in a while we have someone who is hungry. There is a sort of crazy man named William who wants to cut our lawn. We don't have a lawn, or a single blade of grass.
We have people who have some sort of question, need a shoulder to cry on, want advice, want to know if we know of any jobs. Just the other day, for example, we had a young woman whose family ignores her.
As terrible as that sounds, the reason is that the family was living happily for years and years and then this girl was born. The family was very happy to have a new little daughter and she was well loved and doted on. But now she lives far away and they are simply back into their old routine of living and working among themselves. Out of sight, a little bit out of mind.
I told her to go visit them. Surely they'll remember her then. She has had a wonderful Christmas visit, not because of Christmas, because they are Jewish, but because her mother and Jesus share the same birthday. Ironic.
Why was I talking about this?
Oh, yes. I wonder what the neighbors think. Frankly, I know what the neighbors think. The parade does not please them so much.
Our readers are still on the case about my last TWO posts:
If you've ever lived next to a meth house or had to walk past the trailer park you wouldn't be so sentimental about white trash. They're bad news as neighbors.
I think we are bad news as a neighbors, although we try to keep a tidy house. As a rule, we don't walk past much of anything. We wade in.
That's because we are not sentimental, although we are followers of that sentimental old fool, that dumb bunny, that naive goof, Jesus.
Hi Sister, I have a question about the works of mercy. I understand that one of the corporal works of mercy is caring for the sick. I am (finally!) about to complete my training be a nurse. Is doing my job a work of mercy or does it not count because I get paid for it?
I wondered if you might be able to tell me a reliable site for hagiography. I have just looked up St. John of God and read three very conflicting accounts: conflicting on more or less important points, such as whether he became a soldier to escape importunate marriage proposals or whether he took up his charitable work as penance for the misery he caused as a soldier or whether he was simply a heroic soldier for a brief time. I cannot feel that this online version of the Catholic Encyclopedia is really reliable - too many typos and hyperlinks, not at all like the venerable printed edition wiht which I have whiled away many happy hours when I was meant to be doing research on my thesis. Neither do I feel that I can bring myself to trust Wikipedia entirely, even though it is better orthographically. I hope that you can tell me of somewhere (other than your excellent blog) that I might find reliable information on saints on the internet. If anyone would know, I think it should be you.
I lumped these two together because St. John of God is the patron saint of nurses.
So for our nurse, I have this to say: I have some bad news. You are not going to skip off to work everyday singing, "Oh joy, I get to serve the sick! I get to dress their wounds and change their bedpans and fetch them ice and make their beds while they're still in them and make them get up and walk a few hours after their surgery and walk with them while they howl and yowl and complain. Oh, rapture! I get to do the night shift during which an old lady will scream incoherently all night long while all the other patients beg me to knock her out with drugs I am not allowed to minister or, failing that, a frying pan."
You will indeed be doing a corporal work of mercy and getting paid for it. Whether or not it actually counts as a corporal work of mercy depends on good you are at administering the love and comfort you are in a position to bring. How lucky you are to get to make sure your patients are treated with dignity.
It's the secret of serving. Delivering Dignity. You can bring it in on every tray you have to set up, every milk carton you have to open, every IV you have to stick in someone, every person you help try to get their hospital gown to close in the back.
Lucky you! It's just a matter of attitude. We've talked about this before.
As for the lovely St. John of God, I don't have any better sources than you. I just read everything. Sorry. St. John of God was quite a fellow. Certainly one of my favorite saints because he jangled around forever doing this that and the next thing. He reminds me of that Frank Sinatra song, "I've been a puppet, a poet , a pirate....." you remember that song. St. John finally went off his rocker and ended up in the looney bin, which is not so fun these days either, but back then was a hellish experience. Jesus paid John a visit, referring to John as "John of God" which is how John got his nickname. After that St. John took care of sick people, begging and borrowing beds and mattresses and anything else he could get his hands on to bring comfort to the sick. Once his makeshift hospital burned down and John ran back and forth carrying all the sick people out and then went back in to salvage as many mattresses as he could.
Maybe someday our new nurse, Rebekka, will be known as "Rebekka of God". Wouldn't that be lovely?