Open Arms

These are dollies.  More than a hundred will be heading to a tent-city of 60,000 in Haiti next week.  There are a lot of kids there who have lost more than their dollies, so the folks at church made something for them to hold on to. The dollies are designed with open arms, so they may even be placed around the necks of those who can’t hug back.

At Mom’s church, St. Luke’s Episcopal in Sequim, parishioners do things directly.  The majority of them are older, as is much of the population of Sequim.  I think once you reach a certain age and (hopefully) level of maturity, many of our complicated biases slough off like dead skin after a shower.  You can perceive need and act upon it without getting caught up in illusory political or religious differences.  This is the social justice aspect of Christianity I support without hesitation.  When you come across someone hungry, you don’t wait for God to do it, YOU feed ‘em.  And because we can’t live by bread alone, you must open your arms to offer comfort.

I’ve written before about how much I admire Francis of Assisi.  Francis was not very verbose.  He was busy doing the right thing.  When he did pause to say something, it was profound.  Along these lines he said “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”  He also said “Proclaim the Gospel at all times; use words if necessary.”  They often aren’t necessary.  Something to hold on to means more if you are hurting.

They also make quilts at the church to send to those in military service.  One of the ladies tearfully told us about what one quilt meant for a young soldier.  He had returned from overseas in bad shape.  Because of the severity of his injuries, he was in as sterile an environment as possible, so they hung the quilt on the wall within his view.  The young man’s survival was doubtful.  He was transferred to different rooms, then different hospitals.  The quilt followed, as did the prayers of those who sent it for him.  It waited on the wall.  Beyond all expectations, the young man emerged from a coma, pointed at the quilt and said the only word heard from him since his return, “Mine”.  The quilt was brought to him, and he has been holding on.  His caregivers now believe he will be able to re-learn to talk.

I don’t try to explain miracles.  In health care, we have to do our work as if they don’t occur.  We’ve all seen them though.  People who should be dead don’t die.  Some even recover.  Some who you would expect to die in agony are allowed to go in peace.  Some get a gift of a well-timed lucid moment in which to say good-bye.  Some gain great understanding in the midst of their suffering.  But many are too frightened, not knowing what will happen.  We try to help manage their pain and fear.  And we open our arms.


Filed under Communications, Emotions, Ethics and Morality

22 responses to “Open Arms

  1. Excellent post and I especially like and agree with this:
    “When you come across someone hungry, you don’t wait for God to do it, YOU feed ‘em. And because we can’t live by bread alone, you must open your arms to offer comfort.”

  2. Glad you liked it. This post came through like water from a spring. My favorite way to write.

  3. Yes, that is the best kind of writing. I am interested in most of the things you have posted but don’t always have time to say so.
    Today I was pretty busy eating pie, but you have to read my blog to learn what that means.

    Hope you had a nice Pie Day.

  4. Michael,
    Excellent post. Your thoughts are exactly why we enbark of this type of ministry. If it OK with you, I would like to send a link to your site to our email list.


    Fr. Bob

  5. L Lanka

    Dear Invisible Mikey,
    Your reflections capture the spirit with which these dollies are given. We just learned from Episcopal Rector Lauren Stanley that these dolls will soon arrive in Port au Prince. You can imagine that it is quite an ordeal for anyone to get to and from the US to Haiti. As an Episcopal missionary to Haiti, she sees, first hand, the need for outreach–large and, yes, small.

    Thank you for your kindness.

  6. Oh you’re welcome. I look forward to seeing what you all decide on next, and participating in future. These kinds of needs don’t end. There’s always more to do.

  7. Jakeypoo

    If you think you’ve seen a miracle, chances are you were mistaken. A miracle isn’t something merely positive, unexpected, and inexplicable, and many medical outcomes that some people consider to be miracles aren’t inexplicable at all.

  8. OK, Jakey. Have it your way. I expect everything does have an explanation. If I don’t know the explanation, an occurrence may legitimately appear miraculous to me. I wouldn’t have any idea how to determine the truth of it, but I don’t really need to in order to do my work effectively. I’ll still be thankful for unanticipated benefits.

    Depending on your point of view that either makes miracles a scope-of-practice issue, or knowledge on a need-to-know basis. I do accept your premise that the term is overused, and used incorrectly as in “the miracle of birth”, when giving birth is an ordinary biological process that just happens to be interesting and complex to the layperson.

    • B. McCauley

      Dear Invisible Mikey,
      Thanks so much on the article on the dollies and the military quilts. I’m in charge of the latter and thank you for those kind words. We continue to pray for our young man and know that ” God has him in his hands”. We have been doing these quilts for 2 1/2 years now and have sent over 200 so far, it always amazes me when we have so many quilts to send, we each work on our own and meet a couple of times a year to get together and see what one another is doing. Our next Military Quilt Sunday will be on Memorial Day.

      Thanks again for your kindness,

  9. Dottie Nicassio

    Thank you for all your kind words Michael. This is why we all love St. Luke’s. It was nice meeting you Sunday. I hope you find a job here close by….

  10. I would like that too. It’s possible.

  11. Very inspiring Mikey…both your post and the comments. It’s, all of it, the sort of situation that keeps faith alive, no matter what the religion.

  12. sammy greenwood

    Dear Michael,

    I was touched to meet you on Sunday as you quietly were taking in and photographing the dollies. You captured the emotion and gift of that Sunday service. Thank you for sharing your sight/site with all of us. The dollies were shipped yesterday and it feels a little bereft — they seemed to cheer all of us. To new blessings, sammy

  13. Wonderful thoughts and words. I will remember and share this touching story about the young soldier. Being a quilter myself, I know the importance of a quilt made for someone in need. Both for the person receiving it, as you write but also for the quilter. All the positive thoughts, prayers we put into each stitch makes it special and precious. Thank you for your inspiring blog.

  14. Sarah Baram

    That’s such a great and commendable idea. They are so cute too!

  15. Sarah! You can’t be back already. I’m still walking around London vicariously with you! ( I love that place.)

    –She just wrote about it for those of you who like travel.–

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