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Meaningful Reflections: Kaleidoscopes of life

Meaningful Reflections with Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks is a monthly column that provides words of encouragement for associates at USA Health.

Published Aug 2nd, 2022

By Kim Crawford Meeks
Spiritual Care Manager


When people learn that I am a chaplain, I often hear, “Wow, it must be hard to be around sadness and dying so much.” It is difficult, for certain, but it is so much more than providing end-of-life support.

Being a chaplain is having someone hold out a withered, crooked hand for you to hold and grab your heart in the process. It is raw emotion. The removal of the veil of “strength” we all strive to wear. It is the moment when people demonstrate true strength as they allow expression of emotions they have never known -- emotions they have always wanted to express but could not.

It is witnessing the courage to say, “I’m afraid.” It is watching a single tear, or flood of tears, pour from that part of the soul that loves deeply and hurts even more. It is allowing others to be other.

It is never saying, “It will be OK,” but always saying, “It’s OK to feel what you feel, however you need to feel it.” It is hearing countless stories of praise, celebration and joy. It is hearing words of anger, sadness, confusion and chaos.

It is hearing people question God. Question everything. It is being still. It is being quiet. It is not saying anything, because there is nothing to say, and nothing is exactly what they need to hear. It is loving people you do not know. It is being loved by people who do not know you.

It is experiencing the most sacred moments. Those moments where the heart and head do not agree. Where the head may believe the loved one is receiving perfect life in death, yet the heart breaks into pieces, which never fit back together in the same way again. It is literally watching this miraculous process take place where people have this moment they have never had before. This moment that is filled with all moments they have ever had. All the memories they have with this person were made a moment at a time; yet you stand there and hear these memories come together all at once, and this is sacred. All this person has ever been and will ever be fills the room. I am quite sure the essence of the person is being felt by all, and we are changed forever by this precious experience.

The best symbol I have found to describe these sacred experiences is the kaleidoscope. A kaleidoscope is a cylinder with mirrors containing loose, colored objects such as beads or pebbles and bits of glass. As the viewer looks into one end, light entering the other end creates a colorful pattern due to the reflection off the mirrors. Coined in 1817 by Scottish inventor Sir David Brewster, “kaleidoscope” is derived from the Ancient Greek καλός (kalos) “beautiful, beauty” εἶδος (eidos), “that which is seen: form, shape” and σκοπέω (skopeō) “to look to, to examine” – hence, the definition “observation of beautiful forms.”

These sacred moments are kaleidoscopes of life. They are beautiful forms of unique and precious treasure, one being made up of many bits of mirrors reflecting all the loved ones standing around them and each specific memory. They are the light that shines through these bits to make a pattern that is colored with unique hues of this person, the colors and patterns of their eternal souls shining on everyone in the room and beaming into the world.

University Hospital Chapel
Reflection spaces for sacred moments and to process emotions are available in our chapels on the first floors at both University Hospital and Children’s & Women’s Hospital. Resources are also available in each.

Chaplain Kim Crawford Meeks can be reached at 251-451-9015 or kcrawfordmeeks@health.southalabama.edu. Call the Meaningful Reflections Line at 251-445-9016.


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