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WE HAVE ONE JOB!: LET’S DO IT RIGHT

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

It is not our job to fix people, change people or judge people. It’s our job to love people. The rest is in God’s hands. Amen!

A friend of mine posted those words on her Facebook page the other day. My first reaction was: Amen! (as a declaration of affirmation).

Two days later, those words resurfaced in my mind and hit me a different way (and I am the first to admit that I sometimes have a peculiar sense of humor). I immediately thought of the expression: You had one job! And burst into laughter.

I thought about all of the memes I have seen across the internet, on social media, using that catchphrase to call attention to blunders made by individuals on the job. The images accompanying the phrase are typically humorous, like a right button with an arrow pointing left and a left button with an arrow pointing right or the word SHCOOL [SCHOOL] painted in a crosswalk.

The images tend to be funny because it’s hard to believe that such obvious errors could be made. While I am not advocating that it is okay to laugh at people who make mistakes, I am saying that we can find comic relief in the innocent mistakes themselves.

After doing a little research on the catchphrase, I discovered that the meme originated in a clip from the movie Ocean’s Eleven (2011). It implies that you had one seemingly simplistic task (one job) to complete and you messed it up.

Messing up the spelling of a word or the direction of an arrow is one thing. But failing to do the one job that we are here on earth to do – love people – is another. When we fail at that, it is no laughing matter.

Yet, we fail time after time –sometimes because we refuse to stretch beyond our comfort zone and sometimes because we put limitations, conditions, and restraints on how we will love others.

There are people in our lives who are easy to love. There are others who take a little work. And there are some who take more effort and energy than we want to (or are willing to) exert.

As people of God, we don’t have the option to put limitations, conditions and restraints on how we love others. If we do, we mess up the one job that we have – to help people experience the love of God through our lives.

Remember that our love for God is directly displayed in our love for God’s people. If we don’t show genuine love for one another, what does that tell us?

 

Posted in Associate Blog, News

God Plants Us Where We are Needed

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Keanon Lowe is being hailed as a hero for tackling and disarming a student with a shotgun inside an Oregon high school.

Lowe, however, said in a television interview that he acted out of instinct and believes that he was “put in that room in that very moment for a reason … I think things in my life prepared me for that moment … I thank God that no one got hurt, and I thank God that I was in that room.”

Those words have stuck with me since I heard them come from the mouth of the former University of Oregon football standout who is now a football and track coach and security guard at the Oregon high school, where the gunman was taken into custody and no one was injured.

All I can say is “Look at God!”

God not only placed Keanon where he was needed, God gave him the tools that he needed to do what he needed to do in that moment.

I think we can all agree that over the course of our lives, we find ourselves in all kinds of places and situations – at school, at work, at home, at church, at the store, in a voting booth, in a restaurant, in our neighborhoods and communities, etc. Could it be that we are in those places for a reason? Could it be that God has prepared us to do a particular thing while we are there?

I don’t know about you but I have been in many situations when I couldn’t begin to understand why I was there or what I could possibly learn from being there.

But I have come to a place where I believe that God wants to use us for a purpose and that God plants us where we are needed at a given time. It may be for a long time or a short time, but God is intently involved in the process of where we should be.

I also believe that God is always preparing us for what’s to come, giving us the tools and skills necessary to deal with the situations that we face – even when we are not aware of the purpose.

God prepares us to weather the troublesome periods of our lives and to take on new roles and responsibilities.

Wherever you are right now, God has called you there to treat the people around you as bearers of God’s image who reflect the beauty of God’s kindness, love, truthfulness, justice, and grace to the world; to resist evil and chaos; and to share agape love.

I know that Keanon believes that God placed him for a purpose.

Where has God place you?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

THERE IS NO ROOM FOR HATE-FUELED ACTIONS IN A JUST SOCIETY

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

So, let me get this straight – four elementary school teachers, flashing beaming smiles, pose with a noose and their principal reportedly snaps a photo?

I wonder who thought that was a good idea?

Just how insensitive or uncivil (or ignorant or, dare I say, racist) do you have to be to think that is okay?

And, as if taking the photo wasn’t brazen enough, one of them apparently had the audacity to circulate it online.

What is it that these educators didn’t understand about a noose symbolizing racial terrorism? (or were they fully aware and just didn’t care?).

Some parents, who were outraged and disgusted by the actions of the educators, pulled their children from the school.

The teachers in the photo and the principal have been placed on paid leave.

The superintendent was quoted as saying “I am appalled that this incident occurred … I am committed to the (school district’s) values of equity, integrity, and multiculturalism … We will not allow the hurtful actions of a few hold back our district’s pledge to do right by our community.”

While I commend the superintendent for that fine crisis management statement, I understand that the student body at the elementary school (where the suspended educators work) is about two-thirds black and Latino and that the teaching staff does not reflect the population being served. So, I’m thinking some cultural competency measures need to be put into place, as a way of making good on the district’s commitment to “equity, integrity, and multiculturalism” and the promise “to do right by (the) community.”

For me, this is yet another example of the growing number of reports of hate and bias in schools that mainly target black, Latino, Jewish and Muslim students. It is also evidence of the broader climate of incivility and hatred in our nation.

And it is one of the most recent reasons we cannot continue to ignore (or minimize the size of) the elephant in the room – racism.

It might be uncomfortable for some, who don’t want to acknowledge and come to terms with its ugliness. I say to you: until we can ALL feel unthreatened, welcome, and safe in our daily lives, the conversation about racial equity and equality is not over.

To those who are targets of its ugliness, I say to you: don’t grow weary; hold fast to your hope for better days; and continue to be part of the conversation that keeps us on the path toward racial justice.

As for the noose in the photo, let’s call it what it is: a symbol of a repugnant ideology of human hierarchy that denotes domination of one group of people over the other, namely whites over blacks.

What do you think we should call the educators in the photo?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

Being a Nurse is Who I was Meant to Be

I have been a nurse for nearly 40 years. Most of my experience has been working in the city of Detroit in hospitals, home health, and hospice care.

Leslie Johnston, OPA
Dominican Sisters of Peace Associate

I believed initially that my career path would lead me to academics and research, but my first job – in a hospital burn unit – set me on a different path.

One of my first patients was a soft-spoken man named Frankie who had been set on fire by a group of other men because he dressed as a woman. The horror of what was done to him and his ability to maintain his dignity through all the painful treatment still brings me to tears all these years later. Working with Frankie (and other patients in the burn unit) helped me to discover that nursing, for me, is more than a profession, it is my life calling.

I eventually became an oncology nurse specialist and then an advanced practice nurse, after earning my master’s degree, but the sense of mission never left me. I joined an organization that was unique at the time for offering special services to cancer patients in their homes and I chose to continue working in the city, where I encountered other people who were also on a mission of service to others.
I was blessed to meet the owner of a small car wash who allowed a homeless person to reside in the building temporarily so our agency could safely give him chemotherapy. I also met a group of nurse practitioners who worked in a sports injury clinic by day and then took a van out at night to offer free health care services to women working as prostitutes.

In all my years as a nurse, I have received more from every patient, family member and caregiver I have been with than they received from me.

Working with people in their own homes, on the streets, and in shelters has given me a perspective that impacts every part of my life. I have come to the realization that all spaces are sacred to those who occupy them. And because all of us are sacred beings, I recognize that nursing requires a servant’s heart.

Currently, I serve as a clinical manager for a busy home health agency. I rarely visit patients anymore, but I am still ministering — to the nursing, therapy and home health aide staff who provide the services. I try to be more of a mentor than a manager. I respect their input and I try to be as thankful as possible for the various gifts they bring to our agency and our clients.

Health care regulations are constantly changing and access for all to quality healthcare is still an issue in our country. It can be frustrating, heartbreaking, and overwhelming to be a health care provider.
Focusing on the needs of the person you are trying to help whether it is your patient, or a co-worker can be difficult in many circumstances, but joining together with them to do what is most needed in that moment is one more barrier down and one more step toward healing ourselves.

I expected to be challenged in my nursing career, and I have. But I didn’t anticipate it would become my life purpose.

Posted in Associate Blog

Hope Must Endure

Blog by Associate Colette Parker

“Easter Sunday bomb blasts kill more than 200 in Sri Lanka”

Not the hopeful message (or headline) I expected to awaken to on Resurrection Sunday.

Easter — the season of hope — and April – the month of hope — is a time when I want to focus on the positive. One of the last things I wanted to hear was: “The worst violence in a decade has struck the heart of a nation – bombers target churches and hotels in Sri Lanka.”

Then I began to pray and search for answers that would bring me to a place of hope, optimism, and promise.

As I reflected, I recognized that I was in that moment – when all seems to be lost, when evil seems to have won, the resurrection happens. When we experience situations of suffering and injustice, we also experience love and hope, typically through other people who awaken us to the risen Lord in our midst.

While there are still more questions than answers, the attacks (in a place that is home to multiple ethnicities and religions, with the Buddhist majority living alongside sizable Hindu, Muslim, and Christian minorities) are a reminder that injustice, hate, and evil can manifest themselves anywhere.

But, so too can love, faith and hope. There is hope in the shared message of unity from leaders and people across the globe. There is hope in the solidarity shown by all Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnicity and religion. There is hope in the acts of people who have stepped forward to donate blood and provide other aid.

The atrocity in Sri Lanka can serve to awaken us to the need for hope to endure — particularly in times of devastation, suffering, grief, injustice, and fear.

Posted in Associate Blog, News