[Painting: Lost and Found by Greg Olsen]
Last night I had the privilege of attending the Combined Board Certification and Chaplain Graduation Ceremony of the World Spiritual Health Organization (“WSHO”). The graduation was held at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake City Veterans Home located on the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System campus.
The ceremony was conducted by Chaplain Mark Allison, WSHO’s founder, and the graduation’s theme was hands. Unselfish, competent, and compassionate hands and how and who they serve. And how the value of any particular tool, product, or service is increased – often exponentially – by the skills, training, and experience of the hands that wield the tool or deliver the product or service. Each graduate’s hands were washed and individually anointed by Father L. Gally, of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, with a prayer of “May your hands bring comfort and promote healing to all who come into your care.”
Fitting for the graduation ceremony’s theme, gifted Latter-day Saint painter Greg Olsen, and his wife Sydnie, were in attendance to receive a special award.
Greg was presented a Master Artist of Inspirational Spiritual-Religious Art honorary certification by Chaplain Allison. Upon receiving the certification, Greg briefly addressed the audience and thanked Chaplain Allison and WSHO for being so honored. He then quickly shared, in his own, beautiful way, the following insight:
Greg related that in his art studio he has a table where his paint brushes are kept. About a hundred of them. And that each and every one of them is different from the others and has a unique and perfect purpose. That depending on what Greg wants to do, what he wants to paint, he knows exactly what brush to use to achieve the desired effect.
Greg then went on to analogize that just like his brushes, each of us has our own particular role and special contribution to make and that God knows exactly what such unique and perfect roles and contributions are and how and when to use us. The analogy was spot on in illustrating the graduation ceremony’s theme and how God knows us individually and utilizes us in a manner consistent with our individual talents and potential contributions.
This was the second time that I have heard Greg speak this year. And while I have always been impressed with and deeply-moved by his paintings, considering him a truly extraordinary and inspired talent, I have been equally impressed by his unpretentious presence, his keen insights, and what a gracious individual he is.
I was able to observe Greg and speak with him at length after the ceremony and his genuineness and graciousness were evident in his every word and interaction. He is so real and humble for such an acclaimed and extraordinarily-talented person. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
And so, while I truly appreciated the entire graduation ceremony and had a number of poignant and powerful takeaways, I am left with vivid images of, and compelling thoughts and feelings about, the symbolism and the real-world role of our hands as we use them in our own, unique ways to selflessly, patiently, lovingly, and compassionately serve others.
I echo Greg’s message and add my own voice that God has indeed created each of us with unique and perfect gifts and attributes. And that He uses us to bless the lives of others, our brothers and sisters, his children, by and through our respective roles and contributions which no one else can fulfill or deliver in the same, exact way as we can individually. That each of us matters and has a vital role to play in the lives of one another. That there are others out there that only we, individually, can reach.
And so the question simply becomes, “How can we best fulfill our individual roles and callings and use our hands to serve others as God would have us do?” And I submit that the answer is equally straightforward, “By placing our hands squarely in His.”
Inspire and BE Inspired,
P.S. This post is dedicated to Chaplain Tami Taylor. Congratulations on completing this very-special leg of your journey! The rest and best is yet to be. May your hands bring comfort and promote healing to all who come into your care.