Monday Devotional
Dear Friend,
One of my alma maters is the University of Iowa. I studied there from 1989-1991 and received a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies. Along with my educational endeavors, one of the things I enjoyed was Saturday afternoons at Kinnick Stadium watching the Hawkeyes football games.
The football stadium is set atop a hill alongside the University hospital complex. The children’s wing of the hospital looks out over the stadium allowing the patients to watch the games as they are being played. This has led to a wonderful football tradition.
On gamedays, patients and their families will come to the hospital windows where they can watch the football game being played. But, before the game begins, the stadium announcer asks the fans inside to do something special. The announcer asks the fans seated in the stadium to turn toward the hospital and wave to the children and families. From their vantage point, the children can see tens of thousands of people turning and waving toward them, wishing them well in their recuperation. Imagine being a sick child and seeing these folks turn your direction and waving to you! I suspect that it means a lot to them.
Along with being touched by this thoughtful gesture, it made me think of prayer. Sometimes prayer is simply turning from what we are doing and looking in another direction, looking toward someone or something that we might otherwise overlook. It isn’t that we are bad people or even thoughtless, but in our daily activities we might not think a lot about rescues going on in Mexico City or people coping with loss in Puerto Rico or the massacre of people living in Rohingya, Myanmar. But prayer invites us the difficult task of turning from our daily activities, if only briefly, to recognize the suffering of those around us. Our awareness may lead us to further ways of putting our faith into action…collecting supplies for those who are rebuilding, planning a work trip to help or being an advocate for the rights of citizens in distant countries. It begins with looking toward those who are hurting and letting our hearts guide our actions.
If I weren’t already a fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, this simple act would persuade me. But their thoughtfulness also challenges me, throughout my daily activities, to continually turn to look for and listen for those who are hurting around me. The first step to bringing comfort is found in the awareness of the need around us.