Deacon Reflection: The Power of Spiritual Exchange
My name is Wendy Merrill, and I am a deacon serving at
My internship as a hospital chaplain continues to resonate with me. During the first month of visiting patients, I often thought about the disciples going out into the world after their “internship" with Jesus. How daunting it can be to offer ministry to strangers. As I became more comfortable as a chaplain, the power of spiritual exchange between two strangers was often palpable, even when one of the strangers cannot talk. The mystery of spiritual presence with another person was revealed in different ways with each patient. I will continue to explore it wherever future pastoral opportunities take me.
Visits with patients made the psalms come alive for me, literally. The poetic words we have read describing fear, despair, loneliness and pain were being lived out in those hospital beds. Psalms of hope, faith, trust and compassion were experienced by patients, their families and the staff. I sometimes see people's faces when I read the psalms now. And it doesn't matter that I don't remember their names. The privilege of being present with these patients, to witness these human encounters through my eyes of diaconal discernment was an extraordinary gift for which I give thanks. The chaplaincy experience had a profound spiritual affect on me that will continue through my spiritual journey.
When I was ordained, I was given a gift from a friend of mine who has been a deacon for about 20 years. In fact, his was the first ordination I had ever attended. The gift is a simple, yet elegant, large bowl and a hand towel. The card included these words “May these symbols remind you that the greatest model of leadership is that of a servant.”
I arranged the bowl and towel on a
low table in my office at
I have been forever changed by the diaconal discernment process by more ways than I can list right now. Some of the changes are still coming into my spiritual light. I hope my words for this reflection give you a glimmer of the holy experiences I bring to my servant-hood as deacon. Thank you for this opportunity to share parts of my journey with you. And thanks be to God!
By the Rev. Wendy Merrill, deacon, St. John's, Charlotte
Tags: Deacon Reflections