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Summer, winter, spring and fall – I have seen it all.  It sounds like the perfect ditty I could sing about the things I have seen on my morning commute to work these past eleven years, until yesterday morning. Now I’m not a morning person, but I am a sensate, aka Eagle Eye.

Here am I on my way to work, driving along behind this humungous vacuum truck.  Large black letters you can’t miss advertise its contents – SEWAGE WASTE.  Instinctively I wrinkle my nose and squint to decipher the smaller print underneath SEWAGE WASTE.  And I laugh out loud as I decipher the clever slogan, “No one puts their nose in our business.”   I mean, who would want to?  As the ponderous  stinky truck and I drive in tandem for quite a while, I can’t help but ponder the idiom emblazoned on its rear.  You see, in an odd sort of way, you might say that is what I do in my ministry as a hospital chaplain many a day, put my nose in other people’s business.  Where else but in a hospital is a chaplain at times the only person in a patient’s life privileged to be invited into ‘their business’ not only to hear their story but to hold their pain. If this isn’t sacred, this gift of ‘putting one’s nose into another’s business,’ then what is?

No one likes a nosy parker.  Yet, we are meant to be “our brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9). Obviously, there is a very fine line between being nosy parkers who put their noses in someone else’s business or offering support to those in need.  We can find ourselves on treacherous ground whenever we try to strike a balance between being nosy and reaching out to help our sister or brother. There are the familiar stories of Cain and Abel; Esau and Jacob; Joseph and his brothers; the brothers in the Prodigal Son, all stories of brothers who refused to be their brother’s keeper.  Yet, here we are, meant to be our brother’s and sister’s keeper.

And how about this? When we are in trouble and turn to God in prayer, are we not asking God to put his nose in our business, which can at times compete with the smelly waste in that sewage truck?  Of course, God knows about our ‘stinky’ business long before we ask God to put his nose into it.  God is always seeking us out.  There are many familiar stories about God pursuing us, but perhaps none is as poignant as the haunting poem ‘The Hound of Heaven’ written by the English poet Francis Thompson.

I fled Him down the nights and down the days. I fled Him down the arches of the years.

I fled Him down the labyrinthine ways of my own mind, and in the midst of tears
I hid from him, and under running laughter.   …….

Rise, clasp my hand, and come, halts by me that Footfall.

Is my gloom, after all, shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?

Ah, Fondest, Blindest, Weakest, I am He whom thou seekest.

Whatever our story may be, God never gives up on us. In the same token, let us never give up on each other. As our sister and brother’s keeper we are responsible for each other.  In appropriate, caring ways we are meant to put our noses into each other’s business.

 - Sr. Magdalena Vogt, cps


The Hound of Heaven, David Torkington

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Reader Comments (1)

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Thanks for sharing this informative blog.

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