Talk at Evening Prayer
St. Luke's College of Nursing Orientation
New Hall, Seisenryo, Kiyosato, Yamanashi
As a hospital chaplain, I spend lots of time talking with patients. Well, listening, mostly.
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals usually deal with the questions "what" and "how". They try to diagnose "what is the problem with this patient"? And they consider "how can we provide her with the best care"?
But a lot of what a chaplain does is deal with the question, "Why?" Why did I get sick? Why did this happen to me now? Or, more basically, Why was I born? Why am I living?
So tonight, I want to think briefly about this question: Why are you here? Why have you come to study at St. Luke's College of Nursing?
Well, almost all of you would probably answer "to become a nurse." Still, why did you decide you wanted to be a nurse?
In the group work, you have talked about the occasion for your entering St. Luke's College of Nursing. But I want to make a bold statement. You may not believe me, and that's okay. But I think the idea of becoming a nurse, of coming to study at this school, did not actually originate with you.
I'll probably get in trouble for saying this, but the meaning of life is not something we create, but rather something we discover. The meaning of life is given to us. Likewise, I belive the occasion for your entering this school was also given to you.
No one bestows life upon himself. No one in this room sat around trying to decide when, in what country, to what family they would be born. Life is given to us from outside ourselves.
And along with life, I believe, we are each given a destiny, a mission. It comes from outside ourselves. To each of us is given a call to which we must respond if we are to be truly happy.
This kind of talk is pretty much rank heresy in the modern world. We moderns tend to want to believe everything is relative. I have "my" truth, you have "your" truth, and both are equally valid. I can make it up as I go along.
And we believe we can invent and reinvent ourselves, that it's up to us to determine the path of our lives. We each get to decide what the meaning of life is.
We may wish this all were true, but things simply don't work like that. No matter how much he may wish to be, a man cannot become his own Creator.
Certainly, we can change and grow, and we should try to change and grow. The goal of all study is to change the student. Any study that doesn't change you is meaningless and a waste of time.
But changing and growing, too, is part of the destiny we have been given. It is part of the call to which we are expected to respond.
The path of life is not something we make up. It is something we discover and accept.
Moreover, this is something to be very thankful for. Because to discover and accept the path we are to walk in life is to discover real freedom. To respond to the call placed upon our lives is to discover deep joy. And that is because the One who calls us is Love. "God is love," it says in the Letter of St. John " (4:16).
The Letter also says: "We love, because God first loved us" (4:19).
And that is the real reason each one of you is here. It's the same reason for us all: Our destiny is to respond in love to God's love.
Of course, how you respond, what shape that response takes, will differ from person to person. There are many ways of responding. That, too, is God's desire.
You each have different gifts, backgrounds, passions, different encounters. Your own unique experiences have shaped you and prepared you for this moment.
And what you experience here and whom you encounter at St. Luke's will further shape you and determine how exactly you respond to your call. Your time here will help you explore the contours of the destiny you have been given.
But at heart, all our destinies are the same: Together, and individually, our lives are meant to be a response to the love of God who made us. We are all called into the service of Love.
You are here for a reason. Knowingly or not, you have already begun to respond to the call. My fervent prayer is that you'll be able to taste the joy of knowing that God who is Love has chosen you and called you to share in His work of healing the world.