Emphasis on Inspiration
I am looking for the good in people. I want to pay particular attention to acts of kindness and generosity. I want to find the love because I believe that love covers a multitude of sins. I don't want to spend my life focusing on events in the media that highlight the depravity of human nature or what's wrong in the world. I want to see the beauty.
And so on a blue-sky, sunshiny day, I visited an 85-year-old Catholic nun that has been volunteering with Louisiana Hospice & Palliative Care in Opelousas, LA for two years. Sr. Lucille Stelly visits and prays with hospice patients at three different nursing homes in Opelousas, LA on Wednesdays and Fridays and at one nursing home in Ville Platte, LA on Thursdays. In addition, she also donates her time at Care & Share, a food and clothing ministry of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Sacred Heart Catholic Church, on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as distributes communion at a local hospital on Tuesdays. Simple calculation reveals that Sr. Stelly volunteers 5 days a week. Humbly, she is most grateful for her health and ability to drive. She shared, "I love going from place to place. It's something that I'm very grateful to do."
I entered an oasis of kindness and spaciousness when Sr. Stelly welcomed me into her home behind Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ville Platte. Her smiling face revealed warm, brown eyes without pretense. I asked about her life, what inspires her, and the rewards of being a hospice volunteer. The following is what she answered.
Sr. Lucille Stelly was born in New Orleans, LA, the 5th of nine children. She told me, "New Orleans is very unique. The people there are very warm and friendly and inviting." Right after high school, she entered the Congregation of Sisters of the Holy Family, established in New Orleans 175 years ago. Her initial assignment was taking care of the elderly at Lafonde Nursing Home, which was the first nursing home in New Orleans and founded by the Sisters of the Holy Family. Since then she has served in Oklahoma, Texas, Tennessee, and Louisiana. She was in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and evacuated to Alexandria, LA. She has been in Ville Platte since 2007. She reported, "I've worked in about 15 or 16 different places."
As far as inspiration goes, it is the kindness and faith of important role models that have galvanized her own commitment to community service. Sr. Lucille said that she was deeply impacted by the kindness of her parents. She reminisced, "They were very good in teaching us our faith. They gave us a good faith foundation, and that was very powerful." Additionally she cites Sr. Eva Regina Martin, the community leader over the general mother house in New Orleans for 12 years, as being instrumental in her formation. She recalled that it was Sr. Eva Regina's "kindness and understanding toward the members of the community" that influenced her. She said, "She was a very prayerful person."
And what are the rewards of giving selflessly of her time to people who are facing death and in need of compassionate presence? Sr. Lucille quickly responded, "Just being able to be there with somebody." The service itself is its own reward. Her motivation is the communication of God's love. What she wants most is for people to know how much they are loved and cherished by the One Who cares for each of us deeply. She reflected, "If they knew, it would be such a consolation for them."
So what and who inspires you? Take a moment to consider. We can all readily list the things and/or people that discourage us. It is worth taking the time to recall the people who have demonstrated the values to which we aspire, who have "walked the walk," so to speak. And please reflect on the ways that you serve as an inspiration to others, and remember to offer gratitude for your gifts. Together we are finding and expressing the good. We are creating a palate of praise for everyday beauty.