December 25, 1821-April 12, 1912
Clara Barton was an educator and self-taught nurse who supported troops during the Civil War by nursing, cooking, and comforting soldiers. She distributed supplies to the sick and wounded. After the war, she spent four years searching for missing soldiers. Ms. Barton was probably best known for her part in the establishment of the American Red Cross. She was president of the organization until resigning in 1904. Clara Barton was a also a bit of a philosopher and is famous for her many inspirational quotes. I will share some of these quotes and attempt to show how they still apply to our spirituality, relationships, and love of each other.
ON HELPING: “This conflict is one thing I’ve been waiting for. I’m well and strong and young – young enough to go to the front. If I can’t be a soldier, I’ll help soldiers.”
Clara’s life was dedicated to service. If the type of service needed wasn’t clear or available, she still found a way to help. Some of us may be tempted to avoid “getting involved” by thinking/saying “I’m too old, sick, busy, and/or don’t have the skill, knowledge, talent, financial resources, or time to serve”. In reality, each of us have gifts given to us by God. He calls upon us to serve and care for those who are less fortunate than ourselves. Instead of thinking “I can’t…” – perhaps it would be better to ask ourselves or others “how can I/we serve?”
ON FAITH IN CREATING A BETTER WORLD: “I have almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better. It irritates me to be told how things have always been done. I defy the tyranny of precedent. I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
Change is difficult and stressful. It’s much easier and more comfortable to do things “the way we always do them”. It’s predictable with no thinking or effort required. I for one, love traditions. However, whether we like it or not the world is changing and to deliver God’s message to others we need to have faith and consider multiple avenues to reach those who are lost and waiting to be found.
ON HELPING OTHERS: “You must never so much think as whether you like it or not, whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.”
The hope of the resurrection may make us think that all we need to do for eternal salvation is believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins. That’s easy! However, it doesn’t end there. Per the word of God and our mission statement, we are also called upon to share the good news so that “others may come to know him”. The well known saying “two heads are better than one” encourages all of us to join together to focus on how to better serve the needs of our family, congregation, community, and world.
ON PRAYER: “Oh, northern mothers, wives, sisters, all unconscious of the hour, would to Heaven that I could bear for you the concentrated woe which is so soon to follow, would that Christ would teach my soul a prayer that would plead to the Father for grace sufficient for you, God pity and strengthen you every one.”
Clara Barton’s prayer shows compassion for the women affected by the war. Her prayer reminds me of John 16:12-13 which states “12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” According to the notes in the NRSV version of the Life Application bible… verse 13 tells us the nature of the mission, the opposition we will face, and the final outcome of our efforts. In addition to compassion, Clara Barton’s prayer shows humility, an understanding of what was to come, and asks God for help to help others. Her prayer transcends time. Her life exemplified this. She never stopped helping others and participated in relief work until her death at 91.
Clara Barton was a faithful servant of God.