PC Article: April 2019
Dignity in Cleanliness
A seminary professor of mine once shared with us his all-time least favorite word: “just.” He hated when students said, “I’m just a student” or “I’m just a freshman.” From his standpoint, God made us uniquely us and with our special set of gifts—so why do we use words that play down what God has created and given?
I’d like to offer a similar thought but maybe from a slightly different direction. I deeply believe that God’s light can shine in every place, every circumstance, and through every gift. I remind our folks at Josephine about this all the time. As you can imagine, with the folks we have facing longer and longer lives along with the difficulties of getting older, there are times in their lives that can be quite hard and even quite dark for them. During those times, we are invited to hear the good news from St. John: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it” (Jn 1:5).
The point, dear friends, is that no matter how we might look at it—God can work and shine through everything—beautifully and brilliantly! This is the backdrop in which I would like to share a recent loss to our Josephine community—the death of our Director of Housekeeping, Joanne. This was a totally unexpected and sudden loss to our community—and quite hard news to take particularly for many in our staff. Your prayers are certainly requested.
The hardest piece of the loss, though, might be the loss of the tremendous gift that Joanne was to this community. I’m not simply talking about her knowledge of how to clean things or even the good tone that she set for her housekeeping staff—although she certainly did these things very well. The thing I will miss the most about Joanne is her attitude in which she did her work. I believe that her approach to cleanliness was with a full sense of giving dignity to those she served. Housekeeping is not care work like nurses, aides, and chaplains—but that had no bearing on Joanne being able to fully treat people with a sense of love and dignity through her work. I don’t think she would ever, ever, say that she was just a housekeeper—or even just a Director of Housekeeping. She embraced her role and let the light of God shine through it. For that, I give thanks to Joanne for her ministry and proclamation in this place. May God’s light find a place to shine in every place, circumstance, and role/gift that God has given you too.
Warmly, Pr. Andy.