A good friend of mine has been in a nursing home for rehabilitation and physical therapy since before Christmas.
She slipped on snow covered ice in a parking lot. Her broken right ankle and leg are being held together by metal screws, pins and rods in a plaster cast.
By state law, she in not allowed to return home until witnessed in the presence of a licensed physical therapist demonstrate she can get down a flight of stairs and pull her self up by a railing into a wheelchair on her own.
This is because she lives on the second floor of a duplex, which has no elevator. In case of a fire, she would burn to death unless she can get herself out of the apartment by a stairwell.
For ten hours this weekend, she and I were on our duffs, descending stairs one at a time with both our right legs up in the air. Hers in a cast, I just held mine up. We practiced our cheeky journey from top to bottom of a stairwell to boost her confidence. Then each of us used our arms on railings to climb off the stairs and onto a wheelchair, down the ramp and out the front door.
It was such fun that all the senior residents of the nursing home on her floor, with or without leg injuries joined us. From ages 60 to 90, everyone was bumping butts on stairs going down one at a time. We sang songs, laughed, and made jokes.
Some Chaplains spend all their time quoting doctrine. In a world of irony, often the best way to fulfill a doctrine like being the keeper of our brothers and sisters is to get on off a high horse, onto your can as an equal, doing what needs to be done with people.
In mathematics there is the tricotomy property. Any two things, measured by any metric can have three possible relations. Equal, greater or lesser. What is the proper relation of Chaplain to other children of the same G-d?
As a role model. only mildly above so people can aspire without being frustrated by not being able to ascend and match.
When they are in crisis, just below so they don't fall and hurt themselves. Prop up.
Mostly, as an equal. In the moment with them. Doing as they need to do, and making it fun where possible.
We all have our stairs to climb and get down in life. It is better not to have to do it alone.
She is home today.
Peace and Abundant Blessings to us All in 2014.