Learning through Giving
Every day at work, Anurag Mani hopes that he’ll be able to bring God’s comfort to the hospital patients he visits.
Quite often, though, it works in reverse and his patients minister to him, says the 29-year-old chaplain at South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, Fla.
In one instance, a terminal patient requested a 3 a.m. visit to talk about his impending death.
As he listened, Anurag was struck by the differences between the two of them. Within hours, Anurag would be asleep in his own bed while the patient remained in his hospital bed, afraid he would never return home.
Faith expressed through actions of love, kindness, care and empathy defines who you are and to whom you belong.
- Anurag Mani
This experience helped Anurag see the holy nature of his pastoral role. He saw, first-hand, the “pious relationship between the patient and the pastor and the seriousness, maturity and responsibility involved,” he says.
Another patient, an elderly woman diagnosed with cancer, spent her hospital days alone as family lived out-of-town. Anurag became her regular visitor. For a long time their visits seemed one-sided, as Anurag’s friendly conversation was always greeted with silence. He wondered, Were his visits purposeful?
His answer came one day as her voice stopped him from leaving after a visit; “Don’t go,” she whispered. As Anurag held her hand, she was finally able to confide her worries and fears. Through her, Anurag understood the “ministry of presence,” he says.
From a patient struggling with overwhelming medical issues, Anurag learned that humor can be an important healing tool.
During a particularly difficult moment, Anurag asked if it would help to know of God’s presence during her suffering. No, was her answer, but a good laugh would. Two jokes later, they were laughing and crying. “I needed that, too,” Anurag explains, “I needed to laugh and relax.”
Anurag’s upbringing in India provided the foundation for his work today. He recalls a Sunday school exercise that brought his vocation into focus. For a week he wore a handmade cardboard badge shaped like a heart that read “Helpful.” “I think how happy and proud I felt about myself,” he says. “I am blessed because my vocation (allows) me to wear that ‘Helpful’ badge not only for a week but for a much longer time.”
Anurag hopes to inspire other young adults to live their vocation. “Faith expressed through actions of love, kindness, care and empathy defines who you are and to whom you belong,” he says.