One of my goals for my year with Mercy Volunteer Corp was to try new…
My second year of service with MVC has helped me understand vulnerability in new ways. I work with hospital chaplains as a Spiritual Care Assistant for Mercy Health in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to this experience in hospital ministry, I mostly thought of vulnerability as something that expressed itself through tears. In fact, before my pastoral care training with my supervisor, I even thought that the “perfect” patient visit had to include a moment of crying. Thankfully, I have come to experience the extensive ways we express vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the release of emotions that happens while I listen to a patient’s spouse. A spouse, who beneath all of their frustration, feels devastated at the possibility of losing their beloved partner. Although they thanked me for letting them “vent” to me, I honestly felt blessed because they showed me how loving it is to truly accept one’s mortality. Vulnerability is also the openness of two teenage siblings who allowed me to sit with them in silence after they witnessed how frail their mom was due to COVID-19. They taught me that care can echo in the depths of silence. Moreover, vulnerability is the bravery of a patient who responds to my knock on their door by saying, “I am feeling a lot of pain right now, but I appreciate you coming to visit.” Their words are not a rejection of my presence, but an invitation to connect with their suffering.
Since my ministry requires that I be holistically grounded, I often go into the woods to recharge. I love watching leaves fall from their branches. This sight reminds me that I too have been invited to let go. To let go of my rampant self-reliance. To let go of my attempts to do spiritual care perfectly. To let go of my self-critiques that say I am not experienced enough to do this ministry. But what happens when I let go?
Well, much like leaves who fall gently onto the Earth, I find myself resting within my Higher Power’s embrace! In doing so, I choose to hand over everyone I interact with to my Higher Power, trusting and knowing that we are always being watched over. I also choose to surrender myself to the truth that I am where I am meant to be. I decided to leave my familiar life in California in order to get in touch with a deeper sense of trust in a completely new work and life environment. So far, this part of my journey has encouraged me to embrace this cycle of loosening my grip on certain beliefs, so I can ground myself in the lessons that come with nurturing vulnerability. How are you being invited to cultivate vulnerability?
Isaac Cardenas: Cincinnati, Ohio