I was eating lunch at a local restaurant with my therapy harp in its case in the booth along side me when a lady stopped and gently said, “Excuse me, do you play the harp at Medina Hospital? I believe you played for my husband and me while he was being treated for pneumonia. I didn’t properly thank you, and I wanted to let you know how deeply meaningful and beautiful your visit was. My husband and I talked about it often. He died. He had pneumonia 5 times since WW II and was always able to fight it, but not this time. His death was unexpected. I cannot begin to explain what that memory of you playing the harp for us means to me. Thank you. Please keep on giving your gift!”
- Melanie Brown, CTHP, shares a quote from the spouse of a hospital patient.
I was asked by the chaplain to try harp therapy with an elderly woman who was very hard of hearing. She said she could not hear my voice. As I sat next to her bed and began to play, a huge smile spread across her face like the rising sun. There was something in the tone quality of the harp that she was able to receive, and it deeply touched her. I also extended the harp to her and helped her to create a beautiful sound on the harp. This type of activity helps a patient to regain a sense of empowerment when they are experiencing such a loss of control in their lives.
- Sarah Schwartz, CTHP, shares a story of harp therapy with a woman who was hard of hearing.
In January of 2007, Medina General Hospital experienced a yellow and red disaster code. The hospital was closed unexpectedly when a gas line outside was accidentally hit by a construction crew. The chaplain called and asked me to come and play for the staff and patients to bring peace in the midst of chaos. While I was playing in a public area, the CEO of the hospital tapped me on the shoulder and said, “God bless you!”
- Sarah Schwartz, CTHP, shares a quote from a time of stress for the staff and patients at our local hospital.
I was just leaving the Spiritual Care office to begin my hospital visits, when a young woman approached me upon seeing the harp. She said to me, “I was here a year ago for ten days after the birth of my baby. I heard the harp played outside my door. That is what I remember most about my hospital stay. It was beautiful!”
- Melanie Brown, CTHP, shares a quote from a former patient.
Recently we gave a program on harp therapy for kindergarten children in Medina. We invited them to lie down, close their eyes and listen to the music. Afterward one little boy raised his hand and said that he saw a mighty waterfall with two people standing at the top. Another boy behind him said, “Oh, that was just a dream.” We were then able to explain to the class the importance of images that arise from within, as this is the place of creativity. A little girl shared that she felt sad after we played in a minor mode. She said, “I’m going home and am going to give my Mommy a big, juicy hug! I called her a bad name when I left the house this morning.” Out of the mouths of babes, I said to myself. The beauty of the harp took her to a place of seeing her action, feeling sad about that and knowing exactly what to do to right the situation without feeling like she was a bad person.
- Sarah Schwartz, CTHP, shares an experience of harp therapy with a kindergarten class.
One gentleman in hospice care was considered “difficult.” The day my colleague and I arrived for our initial visit with him, he was yelling and appeared very distressed. All he could talk about was his need to get out of his bed, and he couldn’t understand why he was not allowed to do so. He appeared anxious and agitated and was perspiring. At first his family was suspicious of hospice, but allowed their father to receive palliative care as long as they could maintain control over the decision-making. After my fellow harp practitioner and I visited with him for the first time, their attitude changed completely, according to reports from the hospice nurse. They now TRUSTED the care their father was receiving from hospice caregivers! What created such an about face in attitude? I believe it was purely the power and healing mystery of the harp and its music, for Mr. Smith burst out singing loudly and clearly for all to hear the repeated verses of “You Are My Sunshine.” It was the presence and love of harp practitioners, who offered a gentle touch and the parting words, “Peace be with you, Mr. Smith.” It was Mr. Smith responding with the healing words, “and also with you.” These were moments of deep connection, wholeness, and great joy, filled with compassion, understanding and God’s grace; moments of great tenderness. Mr. Smith was no longer anxious, nor did he need to “get out of bed.” His demeanor was calm and relaxed. He was smiling. The healing extended far beyond the walls of that nursing home room to relationships among caregivers and returned to benefit the patient in hospice care. We had helped close a circle of healing. I marvel at the healing possibilities of sacred sounds in sacred space for sacred people.
- Melanie Brown, CTHP, shares a story concerning a patient who was a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church, Berea, OH