A Spiritual Touch

After completing a visit in the Behavioral Medicine department a while ago, I was headed toward the locked exit when someone stepped into the hallway in front of me. I knew her as an employee at our hospital—then it struck me: She was now a patient.

As I walked past, our eyes met, and I nodded. But as I approached the exit door, something made me stop. I turned around and walked back to her.

“I want you to know that you’re not invisible to me,” I said. “I want to respect your privacy, but if you’d like to talk, I’d be glad to.”

She responded, “I’d like to talk.”

A number of months passed before she came back to work. A couple weeks later, she came to me and asked if she might speak with me.

“Of course,” I responded.

After we found a quiet place and sat down, she spoke.

“I don’t know why you chose those particular words that day when I was on the unit, but you have no idea how invisible I felt,” she said. “When you saw me and recognized me and acknowledged me, for the first time in a very long time I felt as though there really might be hope for me.”

Spiritual care focuses on a person’s sense of self, reason for existence, the nature of their connection to family and friends, to humankind, to the world and to God. Tragedy, pain and illness threaten not only the physical well-being, but also the spiritual well-being, of individuals. When someone is under assault, they feel like they are being obliterated, lost or destroyed.

Recognizing that someone is in pain, acknowledging their existence, hearing and validating their thoughts and fears and affirming their worth is, in fact, the essence of spiritual care. When you take the time to focus and to see someone as he or she truly is, you have touched that person’s spirit.

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

February 14, 2008