pastoral/spiritual care

Seeing the Big Picture

When I learned that I would have to work all 4th of July one year, I was a bit disappointed.  My first year in Charleston, the holiday found me on a boat, enjoying fun times with friends, and when darkness fell, watching the impressive fireworks display.  We were anchored just off Patriots Point, and lying on my back in the boat gave a magnificent view of the colorful explosions just overhead.  They seemed to fill the entire sky.

The next year, I had a much different perspective.  Around the same time of night on that 4th of July, I had just finished doing rounds in the ART building, and was making my way back to our office on the top floor.  As I rounded a corner, something out the window caught my eye.  A faraway burst of green was visible somewhere across the river, and a moment later, gold and red explosions pulled my attention to different points on the horizon.  For the next several minutes, I watched numerous different fireworks displays in various locations, not knowing how far away they were or from where they originated.  They were certainly smaller than the fireworks I saw last year, but still beautiful, and the spectacle of seeing a new one appear at a different spot in the sky every couple of seconds was a show in itself.

Working in a hospital changes my perspective in a similar way.  It is all too easy for me to get caught up exclusively in the highs and lows of my own life, to believe that my personal fireworks fill up the whole sky, leaving room for nothing else.  Then I come to work, and meet someone who is battling cancer, or recovering from heart surgery, or about to welcome her first child, or holding the hand of a seriously ill loved one.  Suddenly, my own fireworks are just a small spot on the horizon, still worthy of attention, but only one of many.  It is my belief that God sees each and every one with a clarity impossible for us, and a loving concern for each one beyond our ability to understand.  Sometimes, very briefly, God allows us to see with a little bit of that perspective, and it changes everything.

God, thank you for noticing and caring about the details of all our lives.  Forgive us for the times when we are blinded to all needs but our own, and help us to look around at the lives of our brothers and sisters.  Though we cannot take them all in as you do, grant us moments when our perspective is more like yours, so much bigger than our own self-limited view.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent


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