Sometimes a person is sad and wants a visit. Sometimes a person needs a prayer or to have us contact someone for them. Sometimes a person wants a Bible or a copy of a devotional or communion or a priest.
The other day, the message was simply, “would like a visit from a chaplain.”
So I visited.
I knocked, walked into the room, introduced myself, and asked: “How can I help you?” I was a little more eloquent than that.
The patient smiled at me. “I always ask for a chaplain to visit,” she said. “I was a hospital chaplain. I want to pray for you.”
Her story was remarkable and challenging and inspiring. We talked for a long time. Then I talked with God about her. Then she talked with God about me. Each of us had the specificity that comes from understanding the other person’s life.
She was sitting in a chair, being treated herself. But her compassion for others hadn’t stopped when she retired for chaplaincy. In fact, she’s still functioning as a chaplain in the hospital.
I’m grateful that I was the one who was able to follow up on that request. It could have fallen to another chaplain. And I’m grateful for the reminder of the value of simple actions.
I talk often with people who want to do something that would be helpful to others. They feel trapped by location or vocation. But I’m sure that other people can be her kind of chaplain, looking at hospital staff with compassion, offering prayer of encouragement and blessing.