This month’s grace story was submitted by Jesuit novice Shaun Slusarski
As part of my Jesuit formation, this past May my brother novices and I served as nurse’s aides at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. Dubbed the “the Vestibule to Heaven,” Calvary primarily offers hospice care to patients facing terminal illnesses. During our six week visit, our care was primarily bodily — we bathed patients, fed them, and helped them go to the bathroom.
One morning, a crotchety but affable octogenarian summoned me to his room. He wanted to use “the Jonathan”, and the tone in his voice indicated how much he loved his variation on the more typical slang for toilet. I walked him into the bathroom, but when he had finished, I noticed that he had made a bit of mess. He cracked a joke about it, and we bantered back and forth as I began to gently wipe his legs, his back, and his bottom.
Before I left, he shook my hand and thanked me for helping him use “the Jonathan.” He took such mischievous delight in that term. “I promise that in ten years when I’m dead and gone,” he said, now with tears in his eyes, “You’re going to think of that word – ‘the Jonathan’ – and it will be me trying to reach you from heaven.”
I left his room, now with tears in my eyes too. I was in awe at the sudden depth that had emerged, and astonished by the power of the new connection I had with this man. I was amazed that God’s Presence could be manifested through an accident in the bathroom, the playful tenderness it provoked, and “the Jonathan.”
I hope he keeps his promise.
That’s what grace looks like.