The Love of Christ Impels Us

phraseI recently made my first visit to an ICU. But let me clarify: I wasn’t the patient—I was the student. Just two hours, and I learned so much. I didn´t say much, and I didn´t need to. I smiled a lot, and silently prayed the whole time.

We spent a good while in Maria´s room, an older woman recovering from surgery. Towards the beginning of the long conversation, the consecrated woman I was with introduced me and mentioned that I was from the United States. From that moment on, Maria repeatedly returned to the United States throughout the conversation. “One day, I looked up the phone number of the United States Embassy, and I called them up and said: Viva America!” I could tell that there was something profound behind all those comments that made me smile in their sincerity and apparent simplicity.

After we left, I learned the story. When Maria was a young girl and Spain was at war, the US sent food supplies. She remembers the butter that the Americans brought her when she was a little girl.

As we were leaving her room, Maria opened her arms inviting me to give her a hug goodbye. I happily did, and in her arms that squeezed me and wouldn’t let me go, I felt her pouring out all the gratitude in her heart. I was a face that she could thank for the act of kindness that has remained with her all these years. I don’t even have any control over the fact that I’m American, and all I did was enter her room to visit her for a half an hour. But the Holy Spirit had arranged everything so that his grace could spread the love of Christ´s Kingdom…completely disproportionate to what I myself was able to offer. He just needed my presence to be able to bring a joyful memory into the life of one of his children who was suffering.

Reflecting on my experience afterwards, I realized that I didn´t have enough words to express how those two hours had touched my heart. The only thing I could think to say was that every person should do this at least once. To touch the suffering of another made me more human. It puts my life into perspective, yes, but it also showed me that we are all brothers and sisters, who all suffer, laugh, hope, dream, and love.

Carol Dodd