Years ago during a performance review, my employer told me not to hide my light under a bushel. That has always remained with me and so today as I read it in the Gospel, I wondered what I would do now with that image. Having survived a risky surgery and been given some more days on this earth, what shall I do for God? How can I let my light shine? We can hide our light in various ways and be unaware that we are even doing it. The Fourth Week of the Exercises looks at how we pay back the great Love given, how we can be salt and light in some sense.
Today is five weeks since surgery. The other day I received a blog post by Andy Otto about the fifth week of the Spiritual Exercises. That concept while new to me fits here. I have come through four weeks, in pain and confusion, in drawing closer to Jesus, in knowing the suffering Christ and in embracing the Resurrected Son. Now with everything that I have learned I return to “regular” life so to speak, to the fifth week of the Exercises. I bring the tools from the four weeks and will continue to draw closer to Jesus in friendship given what I have experienced.
This afternoon I returned to the hospital with some gifts in hand. Several people stand out in my care and I wanted to thank them for being salt and light. One of the night nurses was cheery and calm no matter how harried things might have been. He was the only one who made me believe that I was the only one–the one patient who mattered at that moment. If things were crazy down the hall, he would not reveal it by even a sigh. When I confided I was not in a great mood one night, he took it in stride. He hummed as he changed my smelly dressings and took my vitals. Clearly this man loved his job. He never hid his lamp under a bushel.
While he was not there, one of the health care aides I really liked was. A big smile of delight came over her when she recognized me. I am sure God sees her good and humble work all the time. May glory be ascribed to God through her ministry to others. More often than not when I rang the bell, a smiling face or a compassionate heart would appear. Some of the staff had lost their saltiness but generally speaking I received good care.
Yesterday after my session with the surgeon, I had a reunion with the resident who taught me to claim my inner boss. He had mentioned she was at the clinic and when I slipped into the hallway I spotted her between her tasks. She smiled when she saw me. I gave her a big hug and tried to say something but started to cry instead. How could I explain to her how amazing she had been to my recovery process? I tried but she downplayed it. Today along with the gifts I dropped off a card for her that found words to my tears. She had empowered me to channel my inner boss in the medical world. While her colleagues had also been awesome, her solo visits with me were a bright light on my path back to wholeness. Her wisdom and compassion were not hid under a bushel. I will be forever grateful for the lessons she helped me tap into while I grappled with my darker moments of being ill.
Today is the Feast of St. Ephrem of Syria and the readings are followed by this quote of his: Be a lamp in brightness and make the works of darkness cease. Do you hide your light under a bushel? Can you recall an experience when someone made the darkness cease for you? Be a lamp and let your light shine before all so that your good works can be seen and glory given to God.