When I get ready for work, I choose a shirt and tie that go with khaki pants and brown shoes. Most of my shirts are button down collars. Most of my ties are quiet. Particularly the ones I wear at work. (No one wants a chaplain with a Hawaiian patterned tie when being asked what funeral home you are using for your loved one.)
Nancy often irons my shirts and pants because I don’t and because she loves me.
When I get ready for work, I put on my badge and make sure my office keys are in my pocket. I print out a fresh copy of my cheat sheet with the 23rd psalm and coworker names and often-called phone numbers and phrases I want to remember: “How is it going rather than how are you.” I put it on my clipboard.
And I go to work. When I walk through the hospital and walk into a patient’s room, either I am a doctor (true but not the helpful kind) or I am some non-medical person. I explain who I am and offer presence and words.
When I am responding to a page, my clothing tells the rest of the hospital staff that I’m a chaplain. And I am invited and expected to talk with a family about death or about the arrival of their family member in the ER.
Paul writes in a couple of places about putting on Christ, being clothed with Christ, or, as he says in Galatians 3, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.”
We put on the compassion of Christ, the patience of Christ, the truth-telling, the eye contact, the authority, the grace. Sometimes they fit us, sometimes we grow into them.
At times we feel irrelevant and have to explain why we are around and why it matters. And are tongue-tied.
But sometimes, we are responding to a Spirit-sent page. And are invited and expected to talk.