Rural Missouri - October 2013 - (Page 16)
Jill Norton quietly plays “Amazing Grace” for a man during his last hours at Mercy Hospital in Springﬁeld. His wife, at right, says the hymn was the song he always chose as his church solo.
Therapy for the Heart & Soul
Harps For The Heart ministers to souls in
need during the difﬁcult moments of life
by Heather Berry
children in the psychiatric unit. The
3- to 10-year-olds had issues ranging
from behavioral problems to neglect
and abuse so severe they couldn’t
he walls of the private room
function. But Jill says the harp had a
seem to close in as the last
remarkable effect on the kids.
hours slowly creep by. A sin“Children who couldn’t sit still or
gle window and a ﬂuorescent
even listen to instructions became
bulb at the head of the patient’s bed
less aggressive and more cooperative,”
are all that light the room. Friends
she says. “Children who never smiled
and family sit in silence — some
would laugh and sing with the harp.”
remembering, some tearful, some
In 2002, Jill’s harp
angry for a future that
teacher, Darice Augustwill never be.
son, joined her student
Their loved one is
in Harps For The Heart,
dying and is unresponTo listen to music from the
offering “harp care,”
sive to their tears, their
CD, “Harps For The Heart,”
as Jill calls it.
hopeful pleas to hang
click this button inside our
While the duo would
on. The time for gooddigital edition, online at
love to have more harpbye draws near.
ists help them meet the
need in Springﬁeld and
can do little more for
surrounding towns, Darice says it’s
this patient. But registered nurse Jill
not something just anyone can do.
Norton is part of a bedside music min“Many people want to do this ‘harp
istry that helps comfort individuals
stuff,’ as they call it, and I can teach
during difﬁcult times like these.
them how to play,” says Darice, who
Jill is co-founder of Harps For The
is also the administrative assistant for
Heart Inc., a non-proﬁt group based
The Baptist Home in Ozark. “But I
in Strafford that provides therapeutic
can’t give them the heart they need.
harp music care to patients in area
That’s something that’s God-given.”
hospitals, private homes, nursing
The friends don’t charge patients
facilities and hospices.
directly for their services but instead
In 1999, Jill found herself in a job
rely on donations, grants and CD sales
that stressed her out so much she
to fund their efforts.
knew something was going to have to
Despite working other jobs, Jill and
change. So she took harp lessons.
Darice play for several hundred people
“For two years, all I did was play
each year, along with groups at nursto heal myself,” says Jill, who is a
ing homes and hospitals.
member of Webster and Ozark electric
They both can relate hundreds
of stories about how harp care helps
As time went by, Jill began taking
everyone it has touched: One nursher harp to work and playing for the
ing home patient was
with that time. They’re living the
deeply depressed and
present, here and now, because
waiting to die until she
that’s all they have.”
experienced harp care.
Dr. Robert Carolla, a
Another suffered crippling
retired oncologist in Springarthritis, but experienced
ﬁeld, wrote a letter of supStrafford
great relief after playing the
port for a Harps For The
harp. They’ve seen babies in
Heart grant application.
neonatal intensive care units
“I feel it is a most
whose oxygen levels improve as the
worthwhile program and,
harp music was played. Even the hosquite frankly, can do more for many
pital staff says hearing the harp makes
of my patients than chemotherapy
for a calmer shift at work.
or other toxic treatments,” added the
“One of the places I used to play
was the U.S. Medical Center for FedSister Elizabeth Bui-Thi-Nghia,
eral Prisoners in Springﬁeld,” says Jill.
chaplain for Mercy Hospital in Spring“An inmate was dying and I felt led
ﬁeld, says patients ask for the harp
to stop and play for this guy. He was
ministry. For others, the chaplain
scary and stared at me with dead, holknows who might need the peace the
low eyes. But I played.”
soothing notes offer.
A couple of weeks later, Jill saw
“The music gives wonderful care
what she thought was a different
to a family going through a most difinmate in the room. She ﬁgured the
ﬁcult time,” she says.
other man had died, so she stopped to
Like on this day, as Jill plays for a
play for this man.
patient and his family in the oncol“I’m the guy you played for weeks
ogy unit. As she ﬁnishes playing
ago,” he told her, explaining that after
“Amazing Grace,” the notes settle like
she’d left, a chaplain had come by and
a quiet prayer over the room.
he’d given his life to the Lord.
The man’s wife starts to cry.
“He didn’t even look the same
“That is his favorite hymn,” she
anymore. He was literally a new persays. “Whenever they ask him to
son,” says Jill, shaking her head as she
sing at our church, that’s the song he
recalls the day.
Many people might think what
Through her own tears, Jill smiles,
Harps For The Heart does is “end of
then she gingerly touches the arm of
life” care and something that’s more
the outwardly unresponsive man. She
sad than happy. But Jill says that’s not
knows ministering to a person and
the family at that moment in time is
“Sure, it’s sad in some situations,
a special gift she can offer.
but hospice is really about living,”
she says. “It’s about making every
You may contact Harps For The Heart
moment you have left count. Some
at 543 Wild Rose Loop, Strafford, MO
hospice patients are the most alive
65757; 417-350-4676 or via email at
people we meet because they realize
firstname.lastname@example.org. The “Harps For
they only have a certain amount of
The Heart” CD can be purchased for $20
time, and they ﬁgure out what to do
which includes shipping and handling.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2013
Rural Missouri - October 2013
Schooled on sailing
A deer dilemma
Therapy for the heart & soul
Out of the Way Eats
Charge of the Iron Brigade
Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - October 2013
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