by Nate Balmert, Precious Blood Volunteer
At work recently, I gave water to the thirsty. At Truman Medical Center, I provide water frequently to the sick. However, this time the female patient was weak and I held the water jug for her as she took generous gulps. Over the past few months, I have provided clothes to those who needed them and cared for the sick. I feed the hungry. Most of my work at a hospital can be classified as care for the sick, but specific tasks have reminded me that when I care for others I care and show my love for God. I did not realize this at first, but as I did these corporal works of mercy, I provided comfort and compassion for Jesus, who lives inside every one of us, especially those most in need.
Fundamentally, I show love to those in need. In English we have one all-encompassing word for love. In Greek there are four words which describe love (they distinguish brotherly love, parental love, passionate love, and self-giving love). The love that I show in Greek is “agape,” or a selfless love for all humanity. I have been able to lend compassion and channel the Holy Spirit to those who are around me—even people I see on the bus on the way to and from work. During these Advent and Christmas seasons we anticipate and celebrate God’s love for humanity, which manifests itself in the Christ Child.
It is not always easy, but I can make a difference in people’s days. Many people that I see are suffering, angry, or unhappy. For some who do not have much longer to live or have little family, I hope to make a difference in the end of their lives. It may only be a smile, but as Mother Theresa said, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Indeed, smiling can be uplifting.
My volunteer experience has provided me the opportunity to love. We can be distracted from loving others with our own problems. We may not think that people deserve our love or we may not know that people need our love. In a world of uncertainty and chaos, we can bring order through love. As Morrie Schwartz says in Tuesdays with Morrie,“Love is the only rational act.”
Sometimes I can see this love that I provide manifest itself in joy. Every Thursday, I facilitate pet therapy at Truman Medical Center. Many patients love seeing the dogs. It provides an opportunity to connect to patients about their dogs and at the same time bring energy and hope. The dogs bring nothing but love and attention. It tires them too, but they are unwavering and do not hesitate in their support. One elderly lady was distraught because she missed her dogs at home. When we brought Lily, a golden retriever, to visit and she crawled up in the hospital bed with her, she sobbed. She saw her own beloved animal in Lily and this connection was so powerful it brought her tears of joy.
Being able to do this selfless work brings me delight as I tend to those in need. I can see the fruits of my compassionate presence as I live Precious Blood spirituality. My coworkers and the patients appreciate my help and support. It can be frustrating at times, like when patients get angry or are not cooperative. But with God’s grace I can be even better and continue to mature both personally and in my faith.
My work has provided me an opportunity to appreciate my blessings. I see my problems are small compared to others. I see that I have been blessed with strong faith, good health, and many resources. I know God will be there when times are tough. God is also there when we are acting as Jesus and the saints have, reaching out to the poor and the sick. I am blessed with this opportunity, though after a long, tough day I may not realize it. I am able to share my experience with others and incorporate it in all that I do.
Precious Blood Volunteer Nate Balmert is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. He lives at Gaspar Mission House and works at Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, Missouri.