Evangelical Lutheran Parish Nurse Association
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Spiritual Development

Prepare the Way

By Carol DeSchepper, Spiritual Director, ELPNA Executive Director

Listen, I hear someone is shouting, ‘Make a highway for the Lord through the wilderness.  Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God.  Fill the valleys and level the hills.  Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots.  Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed and all people will see it together.’  Isaiah 40: 3-5

Think with me for a moment about the roads and highways you drive on every day.  What are they like?  Do they go basically north and south, east and west (like many roads in the Midwest) – or are they curving one direction or another so it would be hard to give someone directions to a defined location?  I’ve driven down streets like that and give thanks for MapQuest or GPS navigation!  I’ve lived on gravel roads that could be muddy and bumpy, depending on the weather conditions.  I’ve lived on asphalt highways and nice smooth streets. 

I think of this scripture sometimes when I’m driving out in the country and I see a road that goes up and down, but basically reaches out in a seemingly straight, endless ribbon, visible in front of me for miles and miles.  As I’ve traveled other parts of the country, there are roads that climb so high and steep, that I get anxious driving them … there are hairpin turns and deep, deep valleys that make me feel like I’m spiraling to the center of the earth and will never find my way back up. 

In this scripture passage, John the Baptist is beckoning that the people make a straight, smooth road to welcome the Messiah.  This Advent I ask you to meditate on what stands in the way of Christ’s arrival in your home, in your heart and soul.  Have you done all you can to make the way straight so he can easily come near, enter, and live within?  If not, what needs to be done to prepare the way and ‘roll out the red carpet’ for the King? 

Prayer: Long awaited King, help my heart to be ready to welcome you.  What roads should I make straight in my life and how can I help make the road smooth and straight for others?  Am I also a voice crying in the wilderness, hoping to be heard?  What am I saying that will make a difference in my life and in the lives of others? I am awaiting your arrival with great anticipation. Amen.

Resources for Spiritual Growth and Development

Center for Action and Contemplation

Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province and the Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
https://cac.org/


Our Vision
Amidst a time of planetary change and disruption, we envision a recovery of our deep connection to each other and our world, led by Christian and other spiritual movements that are freeing leaders and communities to overcome dehumanizing systems of oppression and cooperate in the transforming work of Love.
Our Mission
Open the door for a critical mass of spiritual seekers to experience the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition and nurture its emergence in service to the healing of our world.

Joyce Rupp

This is a wonderful spiritual resource from author and retreat and conference speaker, and spiritual "midwife".  Joyce has a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) in English, a M.R.E. (Masters in Religious Education), and a M.A. (Master of Arts) in Transpersonal Psychology.  She is a member of the Servite Community (Servants of Mary) and was a volunteer for Hospice for fifteen years.  She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa.  To sign up for her monthly newsletter go to joyce@joycerupp.com. 


Daily Grace from Women of the ELCA (WELCA)

Daily Grace is an on-the-go companion for your journey, offering a faith reflection every day. Encounter God’s extravagant, boundless and often surprising grace by signing up for a daily email message. You can also download the newly updated app for your IOS and Android devices.

God Pause Daily Devotion

Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience. 

      Click here to subscribe                    

Melissa's Prayer Journal:  The Power of Prayer in the Face of Cancer
http://melissasprayerjournal.com
http://www.MBMpublishers.com
A resource for faith encouragement and development, especially for people with health issues. In her letters to God, Melissa perfectly illustrates the power of positive coping in any circumstance! Give this book to anyone struggling with faith, health, or life issues, and let them learn Melissa’s secret for thriving in spite of difficulties!

ELCA Daily Bible Reading

https://elca.org/Faith/DailyBible/

There you will find a link to sign up.  


Advent Healing Service


Advent Service of Remembrance, Hope and Healing  (sometimes called Blue Christmas)

Here is a template for a beautiful Advent service. You will need to use your own copyrights for the music. Feel free to modify to fit the needs or your congregation.  Having four people assigned for each of Advent Candle readings works well. 

Click here for the template 


Lectio 365

If you are drawn to Lectio Divina as a prayer practice, Lectio365 is a daily devotional virtual resource that helps you pray the Bible every day. Written by leaders from the 24-7 Prayer movement, this resource helps you engage with the word, fix your eyes on Jesus, and connect with God in prayer.

MORNING PRAYERS – P.R.A.Y. every day - P:ause to be still. R:ejoice with a Psalm and R:eflect on Scripture. A:sk for God’s help, and Y:ield to His will in your life.

NIGHT PRAYERS – Reflect, rejoice, repent and rest each evening to process the day and prepare to sleep.

TEXT & AUDIO – Read or listen to every devotional.

The app is free and is available through the Google Play store.

Spiritual Direction – Seeking a Spiritual Companion

Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)

Some of you may wish to seek a spiritual director as a way to nurture your own spirituality. Spiritual maturity and growth is critical for the parish nurse.  As you support others in body, mind, and spirit, tending to your own soul is important.  Spiritual Direction is only one way of keeping yourself centered and grounded spiritually.  You perhaps have other disciplines and practices that meet this need for you.

Contact Carol DeSchepper for a more in-depth discussion of Spiritual Direction, including access to a web site to locate a Spiritual Director.

Musical Reflections, Tami Briggs, Therapeutic Harpist

Tami is a wonderful harpist and who produced many CD's that can be used for guided meditation, yoga devotions, relaxation exercises, helping with sleep problems and anxiety, to name a few, as well as for your listening enjoyment. She also has books with CD's titled Reflections on Grieving, and Grace Notes: Reflections on the Harp and Healing.  Just click on the underlined title to get to her website or click here:  Musical Reflections

Nurses Honor Guard

Just this year I became acquainted with the Nurses Honor Guard.  In the spring I read an article about an Honor Guard chapter starting in NE Ohio1.  Then this summer a close nurse friend of mine invited me to attend a meeting of a newly formed Nurses Honor Guard Chapter in Cincinnati.  I was hooked and became a member that evening!  I mentioned the Nurses Honor Guard during a Region 5/6 monthly networking meeting, and most had not ever heard about it – hence the start of this article.  Deloris Bills, another Region 6 Board member told us that she had been doing something very similar in her area for nearly 30 years!  The funeral homes in her area call her to perform the Nightingale White Rose ceremony for a deceased nurse and she takes other nurses or nursing students along to assist.  Deloris didn’t know about the more formal Nurses Honor Guard Chapters either.  I’ve had the privilege of participating in three ceremonies so far and it is a powerful and touching experience, the family and friends of the deceased nurse are so grateful.  Toward the end of the ceremony a call is made to any nurses in attendance to come forward and join us for the final roll call – what a powerful bonding moment!

What is a Nurses Honor Guard and what does it do? - “The Nurses Honor Guard pays tribute to nurses at the time of their death by performing the Nightingale Tribute at the funeral or memorial service. This service is similar to a military tribute and officially releases the nurse from their nursing duties.  The ceremony is brief; it takes about 5 minutes and usually consists of reciting the Nightingale Tribute and laying of a white rose on the casket or next to the urn, symbolizing the nurse’s dedication to the profession. After the Nightingale Tribute is recited, a triangle or bell is rung after a roll call for the nurse. The nurse’s name is called three times and the triangle is rung after each call of the name. After the roll call the words are spoken that the nurse is officially released from their nursing duties. A lit Nightingale lamp is carried up at the beginning of the ceremony then extinguished and presented to the family with personal condolences made.”2


Is there a Nurses Honor Guard Chapter near me? There are many chapters in many states.  The quickest way to find out is to “google” Nurses Honor Guard with your state name and see what pops up – i.e.  Nurses Honor Guard – Ohio.  Doing a Facebook search is another way to locate Honor Guard chapters

If there isn’t a chapter near me, how can I start one?  

“Many Nurses Honor Guard members dress in the traditional white uniform complete with cap and cape.  It is not difficult or expensive to start a Nurses Honor Guard. The caps and lamps are available online and the capes are hand made with a simple pattern. Once you take the idea to nurses in your area, you form a volunteer list that you can call on. The larger the group the better, as not everyone would be available each time your services are needed. Retired nurses are also a valuable resource. Once you have a few meetings and get your caps and capes, you can make appointments with local funeral directors and let them know to offer this service to the family. It is helpful to provide them with a flyer to give to the family.  Each nurse is responsible to purchase their own white uniform and shoes.”2  

If anyone would like assistance starting a Nurses Honor Guard, contact Julie Murray at jmury581@gmail.com.

I even found an academic poster presentation about forming a Nurses Honor Guard. 3

What is done during the ceremony?  Videos of different ceremonies can be viewed by searching Nurses Honor Guard on YouTube.  Usually the following words are spoken:

Nursing is a calling, a lifestyle, a way of living. Nurses here today honor Nurse’s Name and his/her life as a nurse.
Nurse’s Name is not remembered by his/her years as a nurse, but by the difference he/she made during those years by stepping into people’s lives…. by special moments:

She Was There 

When a calming, quiet presence was all that was needed,

She was there. 

In the excitement and miracle of birth or in the mystery and loss of life, 

She was there. 

When a silent glance could uplift a patient, family member or friend,

She was there. 

At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained, 

She was there. 

When the situation demanded a swift foot and sharp mind, 

She was there. 

When a gentle touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed, 

She was there. 

In choosing the best one from a family’s “Thank You” box of chocolates, 

She was there. 

To witness humanity—its beauty, in good times and bad, without judgment, 

She was there. 

To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope, 

She was there 

And now, that it is time to be at the Greater One’s side, 

She is there. 

©2004 Duane Jaeger, RN, MSN

Nurse’s Name, we honor you this day and give you a white rose to symbolize our honor and appreciation for being our colleague.
Nurse’s Name (ring triangle) Nurse’s Name (ring triangle) Nurse’s Name (ring triangle) We officially release you of your nursing duties. Then the lamp is extinguished and given to a family member with quiet condolences.

Deborah Frusciano, another ELPNA Board member recently shared this item from a Barbara Karnes blog about offering the ceremony for the dying nurse instead of waiting until after the death.

“I was told a patient on hospice, who was a nurse, requested the ceremony be done for her in her bedroom before she died. How I love that! Why wait until we are dead to be applauded for the good work we have done. How can we smile and even shed a tear for the show of appreciation when we are dead, too late? “4

References:

Logo fromhttps://www.fcnursehonorguard

Submitted by Norah Bertschy, RN, MSN
ELPNA Region 6 Board Member




Last updated: 11/30/2021

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