When I was training to be a hospital chaplain, I was assigned for six months to an economically challenged, high-crime-rate hospital in the inner city. I went into my first patient’s bedroom with a strong desire to be of service. There I met an elderly gentleman who had been in dialysis treatment for the last seven years. Once, then twice, then three days every week, he would travel into the dialysis unit to get an “overhaul,” as he called it. Now he was undergoing dialysis every day. His prognosis was poor – his kidneys were failing and there was little hope of his going into remission. As I entered the room, he greeted me with a broad smile, brightly shining brown eyes, and a hearty, “Hi, welcome. My name is Edward.” He asked me about my life, my interests, and how my chaplaincy training was going. I was struck by how intently and well he listened. It was as if I was the only person in the world to him at that moment. He told me how blessed he was, how his life was full of beautiful family and friends who loved and cared for him, and how he was so grateful for the many happy years he had spent on this earth. Then, he said, “Let’s pray.” He offered praise, thanksgiving, and a blessing for me in my life and work. Edward, poor, frail, and a “nobody” in the eyes of the world, became the image of God for me, serving me deep peace, gratitude, and joy.
As I reflected on our meeting, it occurred to me that my counseling ministry is like my experience with Edward. So often, I approach my clients to help and serve them. Then, as I interact with them, I realize that I am being helped and served by their courageous invitation into the sacred space of their hopes, dreams, pain, and joy. And I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “…the greatest among you…is…last and servant of all.” (Mk 9: 35b-36a). As a mental health counselor at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling, I welcome meeting you. I offer you 30+ years of counseling experience with expertise in trauma and marriage counseling. To contact me, call Mary Ann Giordano, Ph.D., L.C.P.C. at 410-893-4600.