This Chaplain Gig

Friends have been asking how my new gig as a Chaplain Intern is going. I’m not sure there are enough adjectives – hard, interesting, holy, emotional, affirming – just to begin. My colleagues have also been very generous with their time, perspective, insight, and their care for me.

It was probably better for me to be naïve to enter into this world. My first thought, man, there are a lot of sick people here. Probably you all knew that a hospital might be filled with sick people. But, in this day and age, many are quite sick. Second, it takes A LOT of people, like an amazing amount of people, to care for these patients.

The Chaplain gets invited into very vulnerable times in people’s lives and not just because they wear gowns:
I’ve stayed with patients and families as they’ve withdrawn life support.
Walked with a patient as they’ve decided to enter hospice.
Blessed a baby that didn’t survive.
Observed the results of a shooting in the ER.
Sat with families after their loved one coded and didn’t survive.
Honored a family with a flag raising, who decided to donate their loved one’s organs.

But I’ve also learned from:
The faith of parents who demonstrate their deep faith despite the injury of a child.
The strength it takes to make a decision to move into hospice – and how they teach their families about dignity at the end.
The joy of recovery.
The patience it takes to care for sick and ornery people.
Faith that people have because of, and in spite of, their health conditions.
People who have families and lives and interests outside the hospital room.
Patients and staff who have shown me there are things worse than death.
God and others who are teaching me to take advantage of this window I have to be a small part of other people’s lives.

I have much to learn. Pretty much every day I come home and think – haven’t done that or been part of that before. And I wish every one of you could walk through a COVID unit. You’d realize that taking precautions and wearing a mask is a tiny inconvenience.


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