Making Time Stand Still, Nuns and Baseball?

Making Time Stand Still, Nuns and Baseball? July 10, 2008

As a self-proclaimed sports fan, I frequent ESPN’s website for updates on my favorite teams. In the 6 months I have been writing for this blog, I have yet to come across a story that any of you, our readers, would find interesting, or even relevant, to your life.

Until today.

ESPN did a piece today about Our lady of Perpetual Help Hospice, run by a group of Dominican Nuns. The Hospice sits in the shadows of Turner Field (home of the Atlanta Braves), and the article is about terminal cancer patients, and the Dominican nuns who help them find some joy in baseball. Like life, the baseball season is long. “You play every day. They clean the field each night. They prepare the field each morning. They drop fresh white chalk down the lines. No matter what happened yesterday, there’s another ballgame today.”

Even if you are not a sports fan, this article is inspiring and wonderful. To all our sporty Catholic readers, this article is definitely for you. Here’s a taste:

In a two-story redbrick building eight sisters who live in residence and a staff of 22 attendants provide palliative care to as many as 28 patients at a time. The rooms are bright — tall broad windows looking out on green grass, oaks and rose gardens; polished floors, patterned bed covers, cut flowers in small glass vases, and magnetic Braves schedules stuck to doorjambs.

The hallways are busy. Joseph, one of the attendants, pushes a breakfast cart and sings an old Manhattans tune — “Honey, you are my shining star, don’t you go away.” Sister Rosemary and Sister Augustine stand near the second-floor nurses station and talk about the Braves’ victory over the Mets the night before.

“We celebrate life here,” Sister Rosemary says with an indefatigable smile. “Big time.”

One of the Braves front office employees, who now provides tickets to the staff and patients of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Hospice, was a changed man after his first visit with the sisters and their patients.

He saw patients being spoon-fed, propped up and cleaned. He saw them struggle to open their eyes and speak. Now he understood: This was dying. He saw the sisters wiping brows, holding hands, whispering prayers. He saw them walk into every room with a smile and provide some measure of comfort to the patients and their families. This was acceptance. This was love. This was good work. This was time well-spent.

“I think it must be what heaven is like,” Bobby says. “I think the sisters give patients some glimpse of it. They let them know they’re going to be taken care of on the other side.”

And somehow, the joy of baseball is a part of it all.

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