Yesterday marked the fifth annual “The Gathering” event for the agency I am privileged to work with in Houston. The theme of this year’s celebration was the Journey of Hope. The theme resonated in the presentations of each speaker. More than that, the theme resonated by the attendance and participation of each present.
As I looked at the folks in attendance, I realized that the real strength of our program doesn’t lie exclusively in those who are privileged to work for the organization. The fabric and tapestry of our strength lies in the many people including board members, ambassadors, volunteers and others who voluntarily serve out of a sense of compassion and desire to be a support and source of help to those in need.
The last speaker shared a personal testimony that was powerfully impactful. He shared that he could tell you to the minute how long it took him to get from his home to the hospital emergency room where his daughter had been taken by ambulance following a life-threatening car accident. When he arrived at the emergency room, he approached personnel asking to be taken to his daughter. He provided her name and the attendant looked through the listing of names and said: “I’m sorry, we don’t have any patient listed under that name.”
Can you imagine the additional sense of panic he must have experienced? From across the hall, another hospital nurse said: “Wait a minute, perhaps his daughter is the other patient we’ve admitted. You know, the one we identified as Jane Doe.”
The hospital attendant apologized and said: “When we have a patient who is non-responsive and without identification, we label them as Jane or John Doe depending on gender”. His daughter’s injuries were life-threatening due to a head injury. The lead physician in the emergency room said to the dad: “If she were my daughter, I’d have her life-flighted to Herman Memorial Hospital. It is the best head trauma hospital in the nation”. The dad replied, “Let’s do whatever it takes.”
His daughter’s story is still a story in progress. She is still in out-patient rehabilitation, but her recovery has been remarkable. She has been privileged to be the recipient of “whatever it takes” to promote her healing and well-being. She was present with her dad at the Gathering yesterday.
The dad’s challenge to the group was the importance of “doing whatever it takes” to promote healing for mothers and children who come from hard places. He compelled us to find the resources and compassionately meet others at the point of need.
The journey of hope is an important journey. One of the universal needs that we all share is the need for hope. Solomon, known for his wisdom, expressed it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. Hope is a critical ingredient in quality of life issues.
I have had the good fortune of being in hopeful situations for almost the totality of my life, but there have been intermittent periods of time when hope seemed in short supply. Perhaps that is true for each of us.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to be in the helping profession. Following graduation from college, I went to seminary in 1969. Early the following year, I received a notice that forever changed my life. I got my draft notice. I didn’t anticipate it. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t want it.
- I dropped out of seminary
- My wife and I moved back to the home town where we grew up
- Subsequently, I didn’t pass the physical exam because of a heart related condition
- So military service was no longer an option
So now I was out of school, out of work, in a setting where I didn’t really want to be and my life was on temporarily on hold. I was pretty discouraged. I needed to embark on a renewed journey of hope.
Fortunately, I soon found myself in child protective services as a caseworker. Though that experience I learned so much about families that were at a point of brokenness. In fact, through the process I discovered that it was real ministry. The biggest learning was the realization that often these families did not intend to be abusive or neglectful of their children. They were not bad people. They just needed guidance. The process of providing guidance fostered a journey of hope for them. It also provided one for me as well.
Whenever we invest in the lives of others, ultimately we discover that it is an investment in our own life as well.
All My Best!