For the first time at Adena, Nurses Week served as the catalyst for hand blessing ceremonies for nurses throughout the Health System. Adena’s Lead Chaplain Jerry Compton and Associate Chaplain Paul Ray performed hand blessings during chapel services and in staff huddle meetings at locations across the region.
Chaplain Compton and Rev. Ray had each performed hand blessings in previous positions, and knew the spiritual component it brought to staff. “It’s kind of being in touch with the sacred,” said Chaplain Compton. “Schooling can teach you everything you need to know about nursing or medicine, but you have to get deep down inside your spiritual self and ask, ‘Why did I decide to become a nurse or a doctor?’ Those are the issues we address.”
Staff reaction to the hand blessings has been extremely positive. The chaplains have received “tons of emails” expressing thanks. They have also seen many tears during the blessings and are building relationships and gaining the trust of those who may have broken with clergy or the ministry in the past. “Sharing the sacred does something to build bridges between hearts,” added Chaplain Compton.
The chaplains have gone to huddle meetings on various units during shift change to reach as many nurses and staff as possible, and sharing words of inspiration with the staff, and thanking them on God’s behalf for the work they do. “It’s important for the nurses to be aware of God’s presence in their lives and the way He uses them to do the work they do,” said Chaplain Compton.
Hand blessings are performed as the recipient holds their palms open to receive the blessing. The chaplains take Mir, an anointing oil, and place it on the person’s palms. They then hold the nurse’s hands and pray a prayer for them to recognize the blessings God has given them, as well as the ways they share those blessings with others.
The blessings have not only benefited the nurses, but have also been special for Adena’s spiritual leaders. “It’s been overwhelming to recognize the lack of attention we each give to our own spirituality,” said Chaplain Compton. “We’re so busy with our day-to-day tasks, doing all of the things we’re capable of doing, and yet we’re not really being in tune with our motives. We’ve got to reflect and taking the time to create space for the holy.”
Nurses Week is held the first week of May to recognize the efforts of nurses around the country. Chaplain Compton plans to continue the hand blessing practice during future Nurses Weeks.