Saturday, June 3, 2017

From the ground up


We have the Naaman story from 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c. The story documents how God works from the ground up and heals from the bottom up. Early in the story we learn the great Naaman has leprosy. He is also an Aramean. His slave girl initiates the healing and later the servants of Naaman keep their cool when he loses his. Take the bottom up people from the ground up out of the story and you don't have a healing story.

As I review the stories of people at the Cathedral who have ministries outside the walls of the Cathedral the more I see a common feature: they are grounded in everyday life. Their stories make a difference from the ground up as wounds heal from the bottom up.

Here is another story with the same story pattern. The other day I recalled meeting Terese Lasser in the late 60‘s. She started the Reach for Recovery for women with breast cancer surgery. As a hospital chaplain the lady in charge of the program in Davenport invited me to her presentation. Lasser’s story was one of first being rejected by doctors when she wanted to give patients the benefit of talking plus exercises for their arm. She pestered the doctors until one sent her to a very depressed patient curled in a fetal position with window shades down to darken the room. She was unable to get a response from the patient until out of her own frustration an inspiration. She tripped the old fashion window shade, which went up and rattled at the top. Then she grabbed a chair, got on it, and pulled down the shade. The patient in the bed said,, "you can do that?" Reach for Recovery was born and today it is part of the Cancer program. From the ground up continues to be a "live option" pattern. The lady was the outsider as much as the slave girl and the servants of Naaman.

The ministries outside the walls of the Cathedral have much to teach “from the ground up” approach. They connect us with Scripture and provide concrete places where God is already in our midst. May God continue to bless all that we do both within and outside the walls of the Cathedral. May we become more aware of what is going on outside the walls (containers of our various institutions) where ministry is exercised “from the ground up.” 

Marlin Whitmer, BCC
Founder of the Befrienders, 1966, story listeners for hospital patients and families
Presenter in the DVD on the Healing Power of Stories

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