Gretchen shared with me two experiences where she felt God’s gifts of peace and contentment during times when she was at a loss for how to help loved ones. In her desire to provide comfort, God helped her to reach out, and at the same time blessed her with His peace.
While Gretchen was on a family vacation, she received news that a close family member had been hospitalized. She quickly left and drove home so she could be with Mary. When Gretchen arrived, it was difficult to see Mary’s confusion and how she wasn’t herself. While it wasn’t easy to see her loved one so distraught, Gretchen resolved to return the next day.
One of Gretchen’s many gifts is her gift of music. Gretchen is a music director at her church and she enjoys singing and playing the piano. When she went back to the hospital the following day, she decided to bring her hymnal.
“Mary still wasn't herself, but I offered to play and sing at the piano with her. We shared the bench, flipped through songs, played, and sang whichever songs she chose. Those songs were prayers. It was tender and peaceful, and God was there. He was showing me what I could do for Mary, but I was being tended to as well,” said Gretchen.
God wasn’t done. When Gretchen got in her car to leave, the song "What makes you Beautiful" by One Direction was on the radio. It was followed by "You Raise Me Up" by Rolf Lovland. Gretchen commented how she is moved by song lyrics and these songs happened to be a couple of her favorites.
“When I heard them that day, I felt assurance. God was reinforcing the fact that Mary, despite, or maybe even because of, her illness, was beautiful and loved. He would sustain her. At the same time, God was affirming my beauty as His daughter, reassuring me that He was my strength, and confirming my effort to submit to the Holy Spirit to bring comfort. A profound contentment ensued, and I resolved to trust in God's providence. Yes, I still felt called to use my faith and my gifts to assist Mary, but I let God be God.”
Gretchen experienced this same comfort and peace when she visited a friend receiving hospice care.
She had a busy day but Gretchen wanted to visit an elderly friend who was dying of cancer and receiving hospice care. She intended to make a brief visit and then get back to her family and all the things that needed to be done at home.
When she arrived at the care facility, her friend was very agitated and confused.
“I didn’t know how to comfort her. I called for a nurse who helped to clean her and adjust her position. While I waited outside her room, I heard her yelling and screaming. I felt helpless and started to pray,” said Gretchen.
“Amazingly, she was calm and sleeping when I re-entered the room. An Irish tenor CD was playing, my son's picture hung on her wall (she was very fond of him), and her comforting stuffed dog was tucked in her blankets with her. I spoke very little, but just sat with her. Peace enveloped the room, and I wasn't in a hurry anymore. I prayed a Rosary, re-started her CD, and I sat some more. I had a content feeling sitting with her, and I just didn't want to leave. She and I were both blessed as we spent her last hours of life together in that sacred peace.”
1. How can you provide comfort to someone in need today?
2. What songs have you found meaningful? Please feel free to share in the comments and help inspire others.