Sunday, October 28, 2012

Job 42:1–6, 10–17; Hebrews 7:23–28

It’s been almost 20 years, but I can still recall the uneasy flutter in my gut as the sun went down and my first night as on-call chaplain began. A chaplain who was on her way home, and familiar with the look of panic that identifies a rookie, patted me on the shoulder. “You’ll be fine,” she said.

I wasn’t worried about myself. I was worried about the poor people who were going to arrive at the hospital that night in some moment of supreme crisis—and get me as their chaplain. And that’s what happened. My beeper went off in the wee hours: a car accident, a large family in the waiting room, the doctors wanting a chaplain present when they broke the news that a mother was dead.

Other details of that long night have mercifully faded. What I remember is how helpless I felt—how utterly mute I was—in the face of this devastating loss. The next day I described both the experience and my shamefully inadequate response to the chaplain who had encouraged me the night before.


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