This article originally appears on The La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership blog.
You’ve been hiking all day. You’re tired, hungry and the sun is setting. You don’t know how much longer it will be until you arrive at your campsite. You and your co-Sherpa look at the map by headlamp. “Are we north of South Fork or south of North Fork?” you think to yourselves. Have you ever been in this situation? It’s completely and utterly nerve-wracking. When Elizabeth Mulley ’19 thinks about what it feels like to walk into the hospital during this season of COVID-19, this is the situation she compares it to. She has the skills to carry her through, but “it’s kind of like walking in the dark” she says.
But it’s not always dark. Mulley, what her close friends call her, is a nurse’s aide at Beverly Hospital, currently working in the COVID-19 units. Her job is to keep people clean and comfortable, and she says “there’s something almost sacred in doing that for somebody.” From changing sheets to offering an encouraging smile, she is practicing being the hands and feet of Jesus. “I honestly think that if Jesus was walking the earth right now, he would probably be in the hospitals.”
The hospital currently has a no-visitors policy, which means that patients are dying without their loved ones in the room. Mulley considers it a privilege to be able to talk with patients and encourage them when their families can’t. The hospital staff is setting up iPads so the patients can say goodbye to their family. “It’s awful . . . [but] if I can do something that can make them feel a little better, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to.”
Mulley has always known that she wanted to go into the medical field. She says, “There are two places in my life where I see the hand of God most clearly– one of those is in the woods and the other is in medicine. As I learn more and more about the human body and how it works, it just becomes more and more clear that there is so much intelligent design in this. I couldn’t look at [the human body] and not see the way that God created it.”
When asked what she is clinging to these days, Mulley mentions being encouraged by people praying for her and sending her uplifting messages. She has over 20 masks in her car dropped off by friends and family members. Ultimately, she continues to go to work because she knows that’s where she’s supposed to be. “I can’t see myself doing anything else at this time,” she states with confidence.
Mulley regularly reads this liturgy before going into the hospital: A Liturgy for Medical Providers from Every Moment Holy.
Elizabeth Mulley was a Compass participant and loved the La Vida portion so much she chose to do a La Vida Expedition as a Gordon College student. She has served on the ADK Support Staff and has been a Sherpa on several expedition trips.
By Amber Hausman, outdoor education CORE and marketing coordinator for the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership.