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Asleep in Gethsemane. - Matthew 26:36-46 Salt In A Secular Society

Asleep in Gethsemane. – Matthew 26:36-46

I wonder how familiar you are with this part of the Easter story, the disciples falling asleep in Gethsemane? Today is Maundy Thursday.  We reflect on the events that took place: the last supper, the foot-washing and in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

What do you think is happening in Gethsemane? With our modern Bible translations it is easy to think that Jesus is asking the disciples to stay awake when they were just tired and needed to sleep.  After all it was night.  But in the King James Bible Jesus asks the disciples to ‘watch’ with him.

The founder of the modern hospice movement Cicely Saunders wrote that in the healthcare context the word ‘watch’ meant respect for the patient, paying close attention to his distress, giving warmth and friendship and learning how to feel ‘with’ the person.  ‘Watch’ did not mean understand, or explain or ‘take away’ the pain.  Rather it meant a willingness to learn what pain is like. It meant feeling ‘with’ the person in order to help them find their own way through.  To feel ‘with’ the person means admitting my own helplessness – I cannot fix the pain but I can be with.  

This is what hospice chaplains do. Sadly I suspect that many front-line healthcare workers have found themselves unexpectedly in this position.  They were not trained for this  – they were trained to diagnose, to find remedies, to fix.

Given the clash between training and what was needed it is a miracle that so many of them have come through this painful experience relatively unscathed.

Some will have been wounded more than others by the experience but all need and deserve compassionate care themselves.  If you are one of these people I urge you to be kind to yourself. Please give yourself time to heal and recognize how you are emotionally and spiritually sustained – and make sure there is plenty of it.

If that means falling asleep like the disciples in Gethsemane – so be it!

picture above by Falco from Pixabay

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