July 13, 2024
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July 13, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A series of events brought me to train as a chaplain in a local hospital. One does not need to be a priest or a rabbi to be a chaplain (contrary to what many believe), but one does need to want to help people on an emotional and/or spiritual level as they struggle with various challenges. In the hospital, I often respond to emergency cases, in addition to visiting the list of patients to whom I am assigned. I visit people of all faith denominations and am learning so much from meeting each one of them. Most people welcome and appreciate my visits tremendously, even though many have not specifically requested it.

Several months ago on a very gray, rainy Monday morning there was an incident I can’t out of my mind. I entered a patient’s room and introduced myself. RM was a middle-aged Hispanic- Catholic gentleman, sitting upright in a chair, who looked like he was in the middle of receiving a treatment of some sort. I assumed it was a chemo-treatment based on the location of where he was in the hospital but I have learned never to assume.

RM, with a warm smile, greeted me and asked me how I was. Very often, my conversations will begin on a superficial level and then usually progress to a deeper conversation once an initial connection has been established. Weather, is usually considered one of those “safe” topics in which to begin a conversation. I responded with “Thank God, I am well, but what a gloomy day it is today.” RM quickly answered, “No it’s not. It’s the most beautiful day in the world. I have had leukemia for over 10 years. Every day to me is a gift. Every day the sun is shining.”

And I thought weather was a “safe” topic. How powerful his words were. With those few words, RM left me speechless for a few moments as I was only able to nod my head in agreement. “You are right R. You are most definitely right.”

If I truly believed that every day that I wake up is a gift from God, then I too would feel invigorated with the start of a new day and use each day to its fullest. If I truly believed that God returned my soul to me in the morning so that I can serve him more efficiently and follow in his ways, then I would always be seeking new opportunities to improve upon myself and do more kindness for others. If I truly believed the words in the prayer of “Modeh Ani” (which as Jews we are required to say immediately upon arising in the morning), then maybe I would feel more grateful to God and all he has given me.

“I give thanks before you, living and eternal God, for you have returned my soul to me with compassion. Great is your faithfulness.”

Every day that we wake up, God is in effect giving us another chance to make a difference in our lives.

Needless to say, whenever it is a rainy day outside and I somehow gravitate toward wearing the gray clothing, I always think of RM. I try to remember how each day IS a gift. Though many times our vision gets cloudy because of our day to day trials and tribulations, the sun can always be found somewhere in the clouds.

By Debby Pfeiffer

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