I am continually reminded that United Church Homes is a sacred ministry which defies conventional thinking and often borders on the miraculous. Usually, these reminders crop up in a day’s work in places where they’re least expected. Yet there they are—in plain sight, inspiring awe and wonder, and causing the ordinary to appear extraordinary. They remind me of our mission, and to more thoroughly appreciate why our work is so essential.
Two recent reminders are featured prominently in this issue of Spirit magazine.
The first occurred as the result of a site visit to Nebraska by some members of our leadership team. They traveled to Macy to meet with members of the Omaha tribal council to learn about how we could provide additional assistance to those served by our OmahaCare senior housing community. What they discovered on their fact-finding tour was both sad and shocking: pervasive poverty on the Omaha reservation, coupled with the dislocation of and within families. Such despair and disrepair should not exist in modern-day America, yet there it was.
The OmahaCare story evoked images of the Biblical tale of the road to Emmaus. You may recall that a few days after the crucifixion two disciples, fearing for their safety, left Jerusalem for the peace and quiet of Emmaus. Along the way they met a stranger who joined them on the journey. The disciples did not recognize the stranger in their midst until they ate together and He broke bread with them. Upon recognizing the risen Jesus, the disciples immediately ran off, back to Jerusalem, toward the very situation they were fleeing from earlier.
So it is with United Church Homes and OmahaCare—whereas many organizations would flee from such a situation, we are running headlong toward it, searching for additional ways to fulfill our mission.
The second reminder involved perhaps a more widespread miracle. A few months ago, the board of directors and our executive leadership team were exposed to a six-minute clip of a soon-to-be-released documentary film, Alive Inside, which chronicles the therapeutic effect of music on those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and dementia. We all were blown away by what we witnessed.
So when we learned we could arrange a private screening of the film, we leapt at the opportunity, doing so at our Leadership Summit in October. We also enjoyed a private 40-minute Skype session with Dan Cohen, executive director of Music & Memory, the organization featured in Alive Inside. Amid many tears and cheers, I believe we walked away with a more inspired point of view about what we can do to bring more hope—indeed, abundance—to our residents’ lives. At the very least, we must keep trying.
In short, perhaps we learned that hope is an essential element of the mission of United Church Homes. Let’s hope so!