pastoral/spiritual care


Around the beginning of the year, people are often trying to stick to their New Year’s resolutions.  One of mine was to pay more attention to the magic in my life.  I'm not talking about cauldrons of bubbling potions or magic wands and talking animals (although part of me would be secretly delighted if it turned out that the “Harry Potter” series was based on a true story, or that some wardrobes really do open portals to Narnia). What I mean is a belief that there is, at any given moment, more going on than we can see, hear, taste, touch, or smell, that some things – a lot of things, actually – can't be fully explained by rational means. I believe that God is in those lovely unexplainables. They are a swish of the curtain between us, a gasp-inducing reminder that there is Someone on the other side of it, closer than we usually dare to imagine.

I saw divine magic the night a friend of mine received a heart transplant. The coincidences of my being scheduled to work at the Ashley River Tower all night, of not getting a single other call during that 12 hour shift, of that day's devotion in our church’s Advent book being the one his wife had written weeks before about hopeful waiting – all these and other things that night seemed like signposts pointing straight to God. Believing in magic colors the way I see just about everything. When I was driving to work across the Ravenel Bridge one night not long after moving here, thinking that maybe here (Charleston) was really where I need to be and this (chaplaincy) was what I am supposed to be doing, I saw a beautiful falling star, and magic turned it into a wink of confirmation from God. Sometimes it is just that quick, but in other circumstances, the magic takes time and cooperation. When sadness and doubt intrude, I forget to wait for the magic. But it is still there.

A year before, I stood beside a young woman here at the hospital as her only child died in her arms. It would be understandable to find her a bitter and broken woman today. Instead she is a strong and passionate nursing student, still wounded, but determined to use her pain to help others like her. Her own determination added to all the many prayers being said for her combined with the ineffable workings of God to bring hope and a future out of her tragedy. Surely that is at least as magical as transforming lead into gold. In the Christian scriptures, Romans 4:17 identifies God as the One who calls things that are not as though they were. And when God speaks those words, sooner or later a transformation happens and God's pronouncement comes true. How does it work? I have no idea. In the face of such magic, I am content to gasp in wonder and applaud.

God of mystery and wonder, thank you for the often enchanting ways you work in the world.  Open our eyes to the magic that happens every day, and let it point us to you.  Your love for us has the power to bring about a happier ending than anything we have read.  Amen.

-- Chaplain Stacy N. Sergent

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