I fill quite a few roles at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Capitol Hill, but one of them, the Laying on of Hands Ministry, has emerged as my clear favorite. Here’s how it works… Prior to communion, two volunteers go to the Chapel in the front of the church, and listen to the needs the parishioner has. We then lay our hands on them and say a prayer, hopefully something that addresses the specific need they shared. It’s an emotional undertaking, and many times there are tears, both from those receiving and giving the prayers.
I worked both services today, doing the laying on of hands ministry at the early service. A person came to the chapel and simply said she just wanted a hug. We hugged for a long time, and I eventually learned her situation and provided prayer. But it didn’t end there. As the service continued, I sat in the chapel alone with her and we just talked, and hugged and cried. I haven’t felt that fulfilled in a long time, and I felt like I was making a difference in her life! This is clearly my calling, and I wanted more of that feeling.
When the second service started my role changed to verger, but I couldn’t let go of the laying on of hands minstry. People sought me out to see how I’m doing in my grief process, but I also made sure I checked on what was going on in their lives too. Many of us hugged, and a few of us even shared tears. Many of us shared our anxiety about this week’s election too and hugged even more. It felt good to lay hands on someone, even when that part of my minstry was over for the day. It felt good to console others, to laugh with them and just be in community with them.
On this All Saints Day, I’d ask all of you who have neighbors you haven’t seen in a while, or friends you may have had a cross word with, to reach out and lay hands on someone this week, even if that someone is a stranger. It’s one of the most amazing feelings in the world. If distance makes actual laying on of hands impossible, virtual hugs work just as well, as we do it all the time in our USAgainstAlzheimer’s Community Support Group on Facebook, which I help moderate. You don’t have to become a Saint or anything, just reach out to one person this week and lay hands on them with a hug or a sincere pat on the back. If you do and you have time, let me know how it goes and how it made you feel. We are all in this life together, and we need each other (especially now) whether we like to admit it or not. Have an Amazing week!
A wonderfully sensitive and affirming post, Loretta. Yes, we do need one another. This is one of those poignantly powerful times pregnant with possibility, both of goodness and sadness.
May we, each and all, as you commend, reach out.
I appreciate you and your comments Paul. I need affirmation in my life like most people, especially n during this difficult time in my life. It would be great if some folks reach out to others this week. Thanks again for reading and commenting on my blog.
Such a meaningful post, Loretta. You truly have found your calling – in many ways. You make such a positive difference to so many of us, whether through your ministry at church, the lives you touch with your Alzheimer’s advocacy work, or people like me who are blessed to call you a friend. Thank you for sharing your love so freely.
Thanks sooooo much for your response!! I think our blogs are so important because they give voice to our true feelings and observations. It’s a calling we both share!! I felt so inspired after church yesterday, as if I had really accomplished something good!!
Sudden deaths like Tim and Jamie’s remind us of how short life is and the importance that we make all those important people in our lives a top priority, just as we do for our vocations. I’m blessed to have you in my life as well!! Much love to you!!
This blog speaks to my heart. I have been a Chaplain for almost 20 years the blessing of the hands for patients and their family members is such a blessed and touching moment. In that time you are connected with each other, ministering to their concerns, needs and prayer.
Loretta, you have bless me with an inspiration I am going to suggest to my Pastor that we incorporate ‘blessings of the hands’ into our worship service. I will let you know what he says😍
That’s sooooooo great Belinda!!!! I look forward to hearing what you Pastor says!! It’s my favorite ministry!! Thanks so much for reading my blog!!