I panicked with the first few, but after a while I was surprised to learn just how much you can communicate with eye contact.
I was reminded of this principle when my volunteer coordinator at the Hospice of East Texas recounted a recent story of a French volunteer. She wasn’t sure which patient to place her with, since she was concerned her thick accent might make it difficult for the woman and her patient to understand each other.
Turns out, she didn’t need words at all.
The volunteer was placed with a patient with advanced dementia, so communicating would have been difficult even with the most careful pronunciation. Instead, she entertained her with music and communicated with smiles.
She brought her a flower that they watered together and marked on her calendar when she would be visiting next.
To the patient, the volunteer’s actions must have said “you are not alone, I care about you.”
That’s why hospice is so special. At the end of life, those two things are really all we want to feel.
That patient passed away, and my coordinator was excited to have found a new patient for the volunteer from abroad who had taught French and spoke it fluently.
I’ve never been one for the God-has-a-specific-plan-for-your-life theory. It tends to keep people paralyzed and afraid, waiting for God to part the clouds and speak from heaven as to what their destiny is. What if we choose the wrong thing? Is our life ruined forever?
But God is not a God of fear.
“If God has something specific for you, you’ll know, I promise,” wrote author Donald Miller on his blog this week. “But if He is setting a box of crayons down in front of you (a box of crayons called life) then by all means draw. He’s taught you right from wrong, good from bad, beautiful from profane, so draw. He will be with you, proud of you, cheering you on, so draw. He loves you, so draw in the inspiration of the knowledge of His love. Draw a purple horse, a red ocean, a nine-legged dog, it doesn’t matter. Let’s stop being so afraid.”
That said, I do think He works with what we choose. I think He takes our red ocean and draws ships and sea creatures.
If you speak French and choose to volunteer at a hospice, He gives you a patient who speaks French and one who doesn’t need words at all.
He’s that creative. He’s that good.