The Sound of Hope

Several years ago I worked at a hospital as a Patient Advocate. My job mostly involved handling complaints. One day I received a call from a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit who had a patient that was complaining and unhappy with his care. After meeting with the patient, who was weak and barely communicating, I had a strong sense that he was languishing in the dark and sterile environment. My first thought was that this man needed the healing element of music and beauty.

Fortunately, I had the resources of the hospital’s gift shop at my disposal. There I obtained a couple of music CDs, a stuffed bear, and a bouquet of flowers. Another unit on the hospital had a portable CD player. I brought all of my treasures into his room. Placed the flowers where he could see them. Turned the music on low, but so that he could hear it, and put the bear right on his chest.

I’m not sure what he thought of the bear, but I told him I felt it was important to have something to hold that was soft and was also a good listener. It is not good to be alone when you are trying to decide if you are going to get better or not. As soon as the music started, you could see him relax. I asked him if he would like a prayer for encouragement and healing and he consented. A tear ran down his cheek. I squeezed his hand as I left his room and promised to return after the weekend and check on his progress.

In only a couple of days, the man was remarkably better. I had returned to the ICU to check on his progress and they told me that over the weekend he had been transferred to a room on the regular unit. When I went in to see him he was smiling and looked like a different person. He spoke of what a huge difference the music had made for him. He was filled with hope and the desire to live. Not only that but the Spirit had awakened in him the desire to have a deeper connection with God and to pay more attention to the needs of his soul and spirit.

The power of encouragement, the healing sound of music, the fragrance of prayer, and the beauty of nature all work magic in our lives. They accomplished for this man what medicine and modern science could not. When we are discouraged and feel alone, talking to a friend, listening to music, speaking with God, or walking in nature all work to revive our soul and spirit. Discouragement is a great threat to our well-being. In some cases it makes the difference between life and death.

It is also a humbling experience to be used by the Spirit to make a difference in someone’s life. What if I hadn’t acted on the right impulses? What if I had been indifferent or tuned out to his needs? The lesson of being present and listening to the voice of Spirit in your life is an on-going one. Every day I pray that I will be less obsessed with the inner workings of my own mind and emotions so that I can tune in to the needs of others.

It is so easy to go through life never seeing anything but what concerns me. People give us hints and clues all of the time about where they are struggling or where they could use a word of encouragement and we are usually so caught up in our own stuff that we never even hear them or acknowledge their world.

The two great commandments in life are to love God with our whole mind, heart, and soul, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Tuning in to the voice of Spirit, allowing my heart to be filled completely with the love of God and allowing it to flow out through me is the only way that I will ever move out of the realm of my own self-centeredness into the greater awareness of seeing others and loving them.

By taking care of my own spiritual and soul needs, I am learning to love myself in order to love others. Consider today what you might do to be filled with beauty, hope, encouragement, and love. It is only when we are filled that we can be emptied out to help someone else.