Readings for Florence Nightingale Nurse and Social Reformer, 1910: August 12
“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Corinthians 12:3 – 7)
Here I go again: Paul nails it. We all have gifts from God. And our gifts are not for us individually alone, but, as Paul says “the common good.” We each are gifted to share for the health of the whole body of Christ. Today we remember Florence Nightingale.
“Florence Nightingale was born to a wealthy English family in Florence, Italy, on May 12, 1820. She was trained as a nurse in a hospital run by a Lutheran order of Deaconesses at Kaiserwerth (1851) and in 1853 became superintendent of a hospital for invalid women in London. In response to God’s call and animated by a spirit of service, in 1854 she volunteered for duty during the Crimean War and recruited 38 nurses to join her. With them she organized the first modern nursing service in the British field hospitals of Scutari and Balaclava.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 12)
“Making late-night rounds to check on the welfare of her charges, a hand-held lantern to aid her, the wounded identified her as “The Lady with the Lamp.”” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 12) This maybe why she is remembered with words from Isaiah: “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rearguard.” (Isaiah 58:8)
Like most mystics, Florence had a very prayerful side. “An Anglican, she remained committed to a personal mystical religion, which sustained her through many years of poor health until her death in 1910. Until the end of her life, although her illness prevented her from leaving her home, she continued in frequent spiritual conversation with many prominent church leaders of the day, including the local parish priest, who regularly brought Communion to her. By the time of her death on August 13, 1910, her accomplishments and legacy were widely recognized, and she is honored throughout the world as the founder of the modern profession of nursing.” (Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 12) This is one of the main reasons I love the Anglican Episcopal path to Christ; we are Word and Table. Contemplation and Communion are so important. In our Baptismal Covenant we promise to continue it the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.” (BCP p.304) Florence Nightingale is truly a Saint to emulate.
Not all of us are gifted to be medical people or musicians or clergy or other such communal paths. I know people however who have special gifts for nature and math, for science and life. Such a person might even be you. You just need to let go and let God.
So lets us ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John+