SALT LAKE CITY — For the second year in a row, health care professionals at the Huntsman Cancer Institute gathered to receive a spiritual boost with the blessing of their hands.
The gentle strains of guitar and flute added to an atmosphere of peace on Monday, as representatives of different faiths welcomed the men and women whose hands heal the sick.
"The work they do is sacred," said the Rev. Linda Brewer, chaplain at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. "It is not just touching bodies, but they're touching people's spirits and their souls."
In treating cancer patients, the doctors and nurses experience stress. During "Blessing of the Hands," they were reminded of a higher power.
"They don't have to rely on their own abilities," said Jody Davis, chaplain at CareSource Home Health and Hospice. "There is a greater source that can bring comfort and support."
Religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds attended the event, including a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi and a Buddhist monk, among others. No matter the healer's background or faith, the idea was to make each moment a spiritual one.
"They're all giving us strength and blessings that we can help our patients and we can make their journey a little bit more pleasant," said Lisa Nutter, administrative assistant for OR surgical services. "It's just really touching. It's quite emotional."
The health care providers moved from one faith representative to another, receiving different prayers of comfort from each. It reminded nurses and doctors that they aren't alone when it comes to treating a patient.
"The work they do is sacred. It is not just touching bodies, but they're touching people's spirits and their souls."
"It helped me feel re-centered and re-balanced," said Melissa Wright, a registered nurse at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. "I'm not alone in the care that I provide."
The beauty of the surroundings and the spirit of the gathering enveloped even those giving the blessings. Lacee Harris, a spiritual leader of the Northern Ute Tribe, performed a ceremony as part of the event. She said just being part of the healers was an experience in and of itself.
"(To) come up and help these other healers with this small service is a great blessing to me, so it's a beautiful thing," Harris said.
While it was only the second year for "The Blessing of the Hands" at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, many more of the medical staff participated this time and they plan to gather again like this. The event marked the beginning of National Nurses Week.