Across the Pastor’s Desk: Value of a wisdom person visit

Published 8:00 pm Friday, May 19, 2023

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Across the Pastor’s Desk by Don Malinsky

Don Malinsky

As a chaplain at a local care center I witness “it” often. “The “it” is the look of many emotions tied together as one as a family enters and exits after a wisdom people visit. I call them wisdom people because that is indeed who they are.

Experience is the greatest teacher, so why don’t we listen more often? Oh, what we gain in the process?

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It reminds of the gain a pastor by the name of Tim Brown experienced following a visit he and his newborn had with one of the eldest members of his congregation. He shared this story in the “Living Lutheran” magazine.

“I went to see her with a baby strapped to my chest. She was the oldest member of the congregation at the time, some 98-years-young. My son was the youngest member, only 2 months old. That day he was going to have to make a visit with me.

“She was on her deathbed. Literally. She would die about two weeks after our visit. Her room was a veritable museum: faded family photos, more framed pictures than the walls could handle, and knickknacks galore.

“In her final years she began collecting stuffed animals, which she gladly gave me to pass on to children — on this occasion my new child.

“She couldn’t see or hear very well. My son slept soundly on my chest like babies do most of their hours at that age, which is good because I had to yell to be heard. She clapped when she saw what I was hiding under the sling. When I revealed a tiny hand she readied hers up to touch his.

“‘His name is Findley,’ I yelled. She smiled brightly.

“As I guided her hand to his, I realized just how similar their skin felt. They were both newborn. He, new to this world. She, soon to be new to eternal life.

“He wrapped his finger around hers, and she shed a tear. Their touch brought memories flashing through my mind: Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam,’ infinity touch at both ends.

“If only all care center visits could mean so much. Ah, but they do…

“I bent low and she gave a parting kiss to my son’s forehead, a benediction of sorts. One just leaving, giving a blessing to one just arriving.

“Every May I remember that visit. That year my son was born on the eve of Easter. I had missed celebrating the resurrection in church because we were in the hospital.

“But two weeks after that visit, we celebrated another resurrection — hers…

“I guess I didn’t really miss anything after all.

“Amazing what you can receive from a wisdom person visit. Just do it.”

Don Malinsky is chaplain at St. John’s Lutheran Community.