It’s a career often referred to as a calling. Nurses dedicate their lives to caring for those in need of comfort and healing every day, so every year the second week in May is dedicated to recognizing this chosen path. The annual observance of Nurses Week brings traditions to hospitals and health systems everywhere that honor the longtime profession.
From cake cuttings to pancake breakfasts, it’s a week of celebration and tradition for nearly 4,500 nursing professionals across all of Mission Health. One tradition that has stood the test of time is the blessing of the hands, where nurses have their hands and hearts blessed by spiritual leaders. It’s a symbolic representation of how nurses compassionately provide care using their hands.
The individualized ceremonies are interfaith and open to nurses who follow any religious or spiritual path. According to Rev. James Garrison, a chaplain at Mission Hospital, “The blessing is a way to recognize and remember the importance of human touch as part of the healing process.”
For a nurse choosing to participate, a hospital chaplain will anoint their hands with a few drops of oil while sharing a brief prayer of blessing. Olive oil is customary and has been used since ancient times as a healing balm and a mark of divine blessing.
Olive oil was used by the peoples of the world to mark God’s blessing and as a medicine. May God bless this oil as it reminds us of our participation in the sacred work of healing in this place each day, whatever our task may be.
Yours are God’s hands in this healing place. May you be upheld and comforted by the assurance of God’s constant presence at your side and of God’s healing strength in your hands. AMEN.
At the end of the ceremony, nurses usually walk away with tears or smiles (often both!) and a renewed spirit to bless their patients with the attentive and compassionate care of their hands.
“The [blessing] is symbolic for how a nurse’s hands are used every day to provide a healing touch,” adds Rhonda Robinson, MSN, RN. “It’s important that my hands be blessed so that they may continue to be a blessing to others.”
Pictured: James Garrison, chaplain at Mission Hospital, at a Blessing of the Hands Ceremony with a Mission Hospital nurse during Nurses Week 2019.
Happy Nurses Week to Mission Health nurses, and to nurses everywhere!