Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Silent Applause

Every Tuesday morning, as part of my chaplain ministry, I drive to a care center in a community not far from my home. I have grown to love and care for the residents there and in each of the facilities where I go each week. They are friends. Good friends. I know they feel the same. Their faces reflect what they do not say. I spend time with many of the residents, chatting and laughing and sharing in their lives and mine. Then I lead a time together we call HeartSongs - we sing the old hymns they love, I read a Bible passage and share a devotional thought, a story or illustration that applies that Scripture to our lives. We have a great time together and after I close in prayer I spend more time with them individually. As I drive away each week I feel that I am the one who is truly blessed.

Yesterday morning as I was about to begin, the Activity Director and the Administrator stopped me for a special presentation. They said some kind words of appreciation and gave me this cute gift bag.I was overwhelmed. I wish you could have seen the joyful faces of the residents. They were thrilled! I asked if they would like me to open it right then. A big "yes" and I knew they wanted to enjoy my pleasure with their gift of honor. Chocolate. More chocolate. A sweet "Helping Hands" bookmark. And a framed thank you that nearly brought tears to my eyes. Then, a look at the faces of the residents in wheelchairs all around me and I knew. If they could they would be standing and applauding. I could hardly contain it. These precious people, many who have been part of my life for nearly three years, felt honored and delighted to honor me! And to say thank you!

There are few things that have brought me such joy as the privilege of being a chaplain in healthcare settings, especially in care centers and assisted living homes. To make a difference in the lives of dear people who often feel cut off from life outside. They love to hear of simple things. Things like what I will have for dinner. Or what my family is doing. They long to know what the world is doing while they sit quietly through the long hours each day. Some cannot speak but they respond with a smile or a nod. The ladies love to hear me admire their outfit or their earrings or notice a new hairdo. The gentlemen would deny it but they love to hear me compliment them for their smile or tell them how nice their shirt looks on them. A smile, a chuckle, a nod of the head and I know that they appreciate being noticed as much as you and I do.

Yesterday as I stood and thanked them for the gifts and the honor they gave me I tried to tell them how I hold them dear to my heart. Words are so inadequate. But they heard it. Just as I heard their applause. Silent applause. Like no other I have ever heard before.

10 comments:

  1. Adrienne, what a precious story. I am sure they appreciate your loving heart and what joy they must have felt to be able to give youthat gift and see your appreciation and happiness:>) God bless you and them!

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  2. They shared something wonderful and special with you because you are such a blessing in their lives.

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  3. How kind and I know it couldn't go to a better deserving person.
    I wish at times like this someone like you could just hold me and pray.I will have to know that there is no distance in the spirit and appreciate you so much.

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  4. What a wonderful feeling! The next time you feel depressed or in the dumps, think of exactly how amazing and grateful this made you feel. I tell you, gratitude is a real mood changer!
    You are truly blessed to have these wonderful folks in your life.

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  5. I applaud you also! What a dedicated person you are. Thanks for sharing this story.

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  6. Such a lovely post, Andrienne! You are such a blessing to your friends and I'm glad they were able to bless you in return.
    ~Kelli

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  7. That is so sweet, Adrienne. What a wonderful ministry you have. You are such a blessing, and it is so fulfilling to you.

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  8. I'll add my applause to theirs - what a blessing you are for those sweet folks (and they are to you too)...the Lord is using you in a powerful way! I almost didn't know which post to comment on tonight, they are all so wonderful - but I wanted to specifically thank you for your selfless service to an all-too-often forgotten group of people who have so much love to give...and who just need us to remember them and to care...

    Bless you Adrienne,
    Becky S.

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  9. Thank you for bringing sunshine into the lives of the elderly and the lonely. My mother was in a healthcare center for five years and many of the residents were virtually alone. I do what I can by taking my dog for visits to several places as part of a therapy dog program, but I don't give anywhere near as much time as you do. It was nice they recognized your contributions.

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