In the last year of my mother’s life, I was with her in the hospital in Cincinnati. One of her doctors visited and spoke about controlling her pain. She thanked him and said, “I am grateful to be cared for by a Christian doctor.” Surprised, the doctor replied, “But Mrs. England, I am a Hindu.” I laugh every time I recall this bit of conversation even though she had dementia. In her right mind, my mother would have thought it hilarious.
Her last days were at a hospice unit in Cincinnati. There we heard soft music play by a music therapist who was Chinese. I would read the signs telling who and what organization contributed so that this safe and comfortable hospice could be built. Many were Jewish. Strangers I did not know came in the night to turn her or medicate her. They tried not to disturb her sleeping son. The diversity of people who contributed to or directly cared for her could go on. The compassion of many bore us through.
I read now of people angry about the changing color of America. I read about fear fueled by misunderstanding. I wish they could be wrapped in the grace that surrounded me in Cincinnati. I read about folks fearful of losing their “place” in a changing America. I wish they could experience the people of color and culture and religion who held me together at a time of great loss. Surrounded by such care, I was surprised that I was not afraid.
Faith matters. When we believe in the Jesus who loves all, life is changed. We are guided by a welcoming curiosity, a desire to understand and appreciate others. We are guided by hearts open to love.