“We wanted today to be a meaningful experience for you, with the right stories, the perfect lyrics, the precise words,” Kaleidoscope founder Jan Page told the multi-denominational crowd packed into the tiny church. “For one Sunday a year we have the opportunity as a community to remember the courageous people who have lost their lives to cancer and to honor those who are continuing to struggle with the battles of survivorship.”
Founded in 2003, Kaleidoscope conducts support groups, cooks meals and provides Stephen Ministers (trained lay counselors) for families dealing with cancer treatments. The organization has also delivered hundreds of its signature Bags of Hope, which contain small, personally selected gifts designed to raise the spirit and let people know someone cares.
But mostly, said BUMC Pastor Dan Sturdivant, Kaeidoscope is about “radical hospitality,” breaking through the isolation that is often part of the struggle with the deadly disease.
Kaleidoscope Sunday featured a steady procession of speakers Sturdivant called a “chorus of voices.” Some offered first-hand testimony of Kaleidoscope’s impact on them; others read letters from people whose lives Kaleidoscope had touched:
“I have been blessed by the ability to say ‘I can’t do this alone’ …”
“It makes me sad to know they’re sick, but I’m glad to know I can make a difference …”
“I get more satisfaction from cooking and delivering the food than the family can possibly get from eating it …”
“I am not one who ever receives or asks for help. Being a Stephen Minister has taught me the importance of receiving, that receiving is a gift in and of itself (that) completes
the equation, creating an experience of sharing which is the true human condition …”
“It matters to me that Kaleidoscope is there to give an ear, hope and just plain listen …”
“Living with cancer, you are scared and feel hopeless. People you used to be close to don’t know how to deal with you. They just don’t get it. The people of Kaleidoscope, they get it …”
“Kaleidoscope is unafraid of suffering and has the courage to confront fear with joy …”
Powerful, touching and inspirational music provided by Adagio (BUMC music director Nancy Torres, Susan Milner and Shannon Page), by the church choir and by guest soloist Carl Pantle dramatically punctuated the event, often moistening the eyes of everyone present. Each presenter also provided an item for a Bag of Hope placed at the front of the congregation, which slowly filled to overflowing. Page tied the bag with a colorful ribbon toward the end of the service, and later presented it to someone in need.
Kaleidoscope Sunday ended with a cookies-and-punch reception, but not before Sturdivant asked God to send help in any measure.
“If it can’t be a cure,” he prayed, “send us all healing.”
For more information on Kaleidoscope, or to arrange for a Bag of Hope for someone in need, call 634-1411 or visit www.lifeschangingpatterns.org.