Sparks of Holiness
Nurses have a strong sense of the interconnectedness of life. This appreciation enables us to use spiritual understandings of the everyday tasks of nursing to stay connected with the meaning of our work. Take eating, for example. Many of us have handed out trays, started and monitored TPN, or documented alterations in nutritional status. These tasks have a hidden vitality which we can overlook.
I picked up a book by Yaykov Levinson, a Jewish nutritionist, called The Jewish Guide to Natural Nutrition and was reminded of the importance of food. Levinson says that all foods contain "sparks of holiness" mixed in with other ingredients. Levinson points out that awareness and appreciation about food brings us closer to these sparks of holiness.
To demonstrate this view he describes the food chain similarly to what I write below:
A corn seed is planted in the ground. Levinson would say that God put a "spark of holiness" in that corn seed. This spark of holiness uses the water from the rain and the energy from the sun to break through the earth and grow. From this spark comes an ear of corn.
This ear of corn is fed to an animal, like a cow or pig or chicken. A human then consumes the meat. First the human chews the meat into small pieces, which are then swallowed. Stomach acids break down the food into small components so that they can pass into the small intestine. In the small intestine the food is further broken down and is transported to the bloodstream. The bloodstream takes the food to the liver, where it is further broken down and placed back into the bloodstream to go toward individual cells. From the stomach to the cell, the food has gone through a remarkable transformation.
The corn is broken down to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and vitamins. These are broken down into even smaller parts, such as amino acids and glucose. Eventually the food becomes ATP or adenosine triphosphate. All cells use ATP to power their work by breaking certain chemical bonds, which create sparks of energy. Levinson points out that these sparks of energy are sparks of holiness.
The energy which God supplies from the seed, the sun and the rain has a direct connection to every cell. When we feed a patient, we are providing them not only physical nutrition but also with sparks of holiness to feed their soul.