Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 7th, 2010

Elizabeth Furlong

School of Nursing
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The First Reading and the Gospel capture my attention as I write this on December 21 – because my best friend, Pat Ehrhart, died one week ago.  We had a friendship that spanned three and half decades.

Pat lived the message of love found in the First Reading.  At the evening memorial liturgy, several of her children shared stories of her.  All of them, in some way, focused on her great love of them and of others.  They included a short video clip of an interview the family had conducted with Pat on her understanding of God and God’s love – her taped comments would constitute a 21st century version of this First Reading.  She ‘got it.’ She understood that God was about love; and, that what we need to be about is to love.  She absolutely consistently understood the unconditional love of God for each person; and, she lived that understanding with all who came into her circle of life. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…”  Pat understood that, i.e., that the Spirit of the Lord is upon each of us.  We are to continue living that Spirit.  And, she did.  She served in many capacities to ‘bring glad tidings to the poor’ with her service with the poor during her life.  She ‘proclaimed liberty to captives’ as she was tenacious in her nursing care of and advocacy for individuals with mental illnesses.  She worked to unleash their captivity to stigmatized illnesses in our society and to educate future generations of nursing students to best care for them. Pat worked at ‘letting the oppressed go free.’  When the oppressed were Cuban refugees re-settling in this country, she was an important leader in Omaha, Nebraska.  When the oppressed were Mexican migrant farmworkers with a right to just wages, housing, and work conditions, she led Omaha efforts in the Cesar Chavez boycotts. When the oppressed were women abused by their husbands, she welcomed them and their children into her home – in a time before there were shelters.

Who are the Pat’s in your world?  Who loves unconditionally?  Who exudes the Spirit of the Lord?  Who is bringing ‘glad tidings to the poor’?  Who is proclaiming ‘liberty to the captives’? Who is letting the ‘oppressed go free’?  Are you moving in the direction of being a Pat?
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