Sacred Stories | Encourage One Another

“Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 

It was Saturday morning, and I was assigned to work in the physical therapy department. As patients were being assigned to therapists, I learned that one elderly male patient had refused physical therapy all week.

I asked to have that patient assigned to me because I feel we, as caregivers and therapists, are responsible for encouraging patients to remain active. I wanted to embrace the challenge of motivating him to participate in the care his physician had ordered for him.

When I stepped into the patient’s room later that morning, he said, “What do you want?”  I introduced myself, advised him it was in his best interests to remain as active as he could, and encouraged him to participate in physical therapy. I explained that my goal was for him to walk out into the hallway with me and do an exercise or two to help strengthen his legs. He quickly responded that he was not interested in physical therapy and that I should “Go away!”

I saw a rosary on his bedside table and commented on its beauty. “Do you even know what that is?” he asked. I told him that I was Catholic. He said, “Just because you are Catholic doesn’t mean you know what a rosary is or how to use it.”

I assured him I know how to use a rosary, and I often say the prayer to our Blessed Mother. I asked if he was familiar with the new Five Luminous Mysteries added by Pope John Paul II in 2002. The look on his face told me he was not, so I described each briefly:

  • the baptism of Jesus at the River Jordan,
  • the self-manifestation of Jesus at the wedding of Cana,
  • the proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven,
  • the transfiguration of Jesus, and
  • the institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

After I finished my explanation of these luminous mysteries, there was a long pause as the patient looked up at me. “Are you a priest?” he asked.

I smiled and said, “No, I’m not a priest, I’m a physical therapist. Are you ready to walk?”

After a short pause, he said, “Yeah, I’ll walk with you!”

And off we went into the hallway.

Submitted by Alla Brossart.

Questions for Reflection

How did this story demonstrate a whole-person approach to supporting a patient in body, mind, and spirit?

In what ways do you build rapport – with patients, families, or colleagues – in order to encourage, motivate, or inspire?

About Sacred Stories

As CommonSpirit Health, we make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of
the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.

Sacred Stories convey ways our mission is being lived out by the gifted people in our ministry. We invite you to
use these stories for inspiration, as a meeting reflection, or to encourage discussion with your team.