CHRISTMAS BLOG

Guest Blog by Katherine Irene Pettus, PhD

Read in French Blog de Noël

Read in Russian РОЖДЕСТВЕНСКИЙ БЛОГ

HOW PROVIDING PALLIATIVE CARE  FOR CHILDREN WITH LIFE-LIMITING AND LIFE-THREATENING ILLNESS CALLS IN THE KINGDOM AND BENEFITS US ALL

When the heart breaks God can come in.  The wound is the place where the Light enters you,” Rumi.

The Christmas season calls Christians to reflect on what we call the Incarnation, or God taking human birth in a little child destined to suffer and die at the hands of those whose power he threatened. This blog reflects on how we, as community members, can serve the Incarnation in the persons of seriously ill children and their families, bringing gifts, like the Magi, of ourselves, our treasure.

When I lived in San Diego, I volunteered as as a Spanish translator for the paediatric hospice home-care teams that served the Mexican and Central American immigrant communities.  I was privileged to visit the (usually very humble) homes of families, often single mothers, caring for seriously ill children with not much time to live.  My job was only to translate the words: the energy of love in the room needed no translation, since it was accessible to everyone present.  In it they “lived and moved and had their being.” (Acts 17:28)

It is a rare privilege to be in the presence of such love.

For Christians, the unconditional love and tenderness children with serious and terminal illness evoke — whether they are our biological kids or not — is an intimation of God’s presence.  Jesus referred to them in MT 25: 40, as “the least of my brethren,” to emphasise God’s connection with humanity, telling his followers that “the kingdom belongs to such as these”. (MT 19:14)

I think what Jesus was getting at is the fact that children’s natural trust and dependence effortlessly pry open the hearts of those who care for them. They accomplish this feat of spiritual mechanics by calling on us to mirror their virtues: trust, generosity, and unconditional love. Children’s hospices all over the world represent one vision of the coming of the kingdom that Jesus spoke of, which we intuit as “here, but not yet.”  A world with sufficient palliative care and adequate pain medicine for all prefigures the kingdom, being illuminated by values of the common good that prioritise the most vulnerable.

The virtues of generosity, friendship, and service inherent in palliative care are universal though.  They are hardly the exclusive property of Christianity.  Ancient philosophers such as Aristotle considered them the core virtues of classical citizenship.  Although immanent to all of us, as children show us so vividly, the virtues can’t be left dormant, or they wither. They must be continually practiced, enacted in community, to bear fruit. Caring for seriously ill children, whether as a clinician, a volunteer, or a fundraiser, allows anyone, whether they think of themselves as religious, spiritual, or non-theistic, to practice the virtues to benefit the community as a whole.

The Christmas story of Jesus’ birth in an outbuilding in Bethlehem reveals God’s solidarity with the most vulnerable. That solidarity is a particular type of love, or spiritual friendship characterised by self-giving. A pearl of great price. Our service to terminally ill children and their caregivers, who ideally include palliative care teams, participates in that solidarity.

The Little Stars films intimately connect viewers with the love and solidarity that run like live current through the world of children’s hospice and palliative care. The films can be used as advocacy tools to bridge the vast gap between the global need for paediatric palliative care and adequate provision that is the target of the ICPCN NOW Campaign.

See http://www.icpcnnow.com for more information.

 

OTHER NEWS

Little Stars Launched in South Africa

Little Stars Launched in South Africa

WORLD Hospice and Palliative Care Day was on 10 October, and to celebrate and mark the occasion, the International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) and local organisation Umduduzi – Hospice Care for Children, hosted the premiere of...

read more
LITTLE STARS TO BROADCAST ON TRT TURKEY

LITTLE STARS TO BROADCAST ON TRT TURKEY

Little Stars: Accomplishing the Extraordinary in the Face of Serious Illness will be nationally broadcast in Turkey this year on TRT. The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, also known as TRT, is the national public broadcaster of...

read more
Little Stars: Japan Prize Finalist

Little Stars: Japan Prize Finalist

INTERNATIONAL VISION To live in a world where children’s palliative care is acknowledged and respected as a unique service, and every child and young person with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions and their families can receive the...

read more
Nazmi continues to chase his dream

Nazmi continues to chase his dream

"I continue to chase my dream of improving my chess game. I was recently chosen to attend the Level 4 Junior Master chess camp. This is the beginning of my dream to take my chess game up a level. I have also passed the first qualifying...

read more
Subscribe to Little Stars and receive regular news updates!
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.