Being called to serve
by Carol Anne Lawler, HPCCR Communities of Faith Liaison
It was Monday afternoon after 4pm when I got a phone call from Amanda at Gold Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Stanley, NC. Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County (a regional office of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region) had formed a relationship with Gold Hill a number of years ago when they began participating in our Light Up a Life annual service in Lincoln County, offering their gift of special music. Subsequently, we have done several educational programs for them and provided some hospice information for “goody bags” they were assembling for a mission project.
When I received the phone call on Monday, however, they were calling for a different reason. The church family had a relationship with Chloe Jade Arwood and James Levi Caldwell, the two children who were killed when the dirt structure collapsed on them as they went to retrieve a toy in the large hole on the property of their home. The pastor of Gold Hill, Bishop Lowery, requested my presence and wanted me to “say a few words.” Because of the relationship we have, I said, “Of course I will be there.”
What does one say in the face of great tragedy when mere words are paltry and don’t begin to address the enormity of the loss? I said what I was called to say when I served as chaplain and grief counselor: You all are loved and you and I are not alone.
We lift up and we honor the lives of Chloe Jade Arwood and James Levi Caldwell.
We will miss them. We miss their presence, their smile, their beings. But I’ve been told, and have come to believe, that a part of their young lives remain a part of ours. They are not forgotten by us. They will not be forgotten by us.
For a time (and I can’t say how much time), you will hurt and feel the pain of their loss in this world. It is this pain that connects us to others in pain and is the breeding ground for the possibility of compassion or of bitterness.
The only decision we get to make right now, as we cannot change the ways of the world, is whether to commit our hearts to love our neighbor (in spite of how we hurt) or else to close ourselves off; that is, to ward ourselves from feelings that are difficult to experience.
In time, you will decide how to honor the memory of these young lives. Perhaps you will perform acts of kindness for other children in Chloe’s and in James’ memories. Perhaps you will pray for other children or work to care for children – in some way. Maybe, just maybe, you will see this time in your life as the moment you made the decision to change for the good or for the better – with the grace of God – for the sake of James and Chloe and on behalf of all children.
Tonight we have yet another opportunity to put life into perspective and to realize what is really important. We are more alike than we are different; skin color, gender, poverty or riches, none of it matters. What matters is that we are connected to one another in our pain and in our joy.
May we know healing in our grief, peace in confusion, and strength in our frailty. We lift up our prayers, our laments, our thoughts, our feelings to you, O God, and once again, we place them in your loving hands. Amen.
The best part of being the Communities of Faith Liaison for HPCCR is the privilege of developing relationships each day – with just one person or with a small group. The time I spend offering education, resources, or ‘lunch-n-learns’ builds the foundation for the morning or afternoon when the phone rings and I receive the call to say that our services are needed. On behalf of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, with God’s grace, I will be there to lend a hand, a prayer, and a word of hope.Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, end of life, grief, Hospice & Palliative Care Lincoln County, spiritual care comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.