Here. Now.

Here. Now.

That’s what I wrote on the page I used to put on my clipboard at the beginning of each chaplain shift. The page had phone numbers, space for notes, the 23rd psalm (in case someone wanted to hear it), ideas I wanted to remember. And then a simple reminder of where to be when I walked into a room and started to be in conversation.

Here. Now.

Whatever was happening or could be happening or had happened in other parts of the hospital, in other parts of my life, in all the rest of the universe were not in this place or this time. What is here, what is now, is two people, in each other’s presence, with one of them attentive to the other. By choice.

Here. Now.

What we sometimes remember is that our action in this moment has consequences for the next. We often think of the word “consequences” as mostly negative. It doesn’t have to be that way. Inviting and listening to another person’s story, the one they have never had a safe person to tell, the one that they are finally getting to in their last 72 hours, can consume time. But it also can be a gift of time. As they speak, they may have a moment of peace, a moment of being understood, a moment of being.

And in the offering of the gift, we can be aware that there are people other than ourselves.

Here. Now.

The other day, Dane Ortland wrote, “’Encourage one another and build one another up’ (1 Thess 5:11). One of the most disobeyed commands in Scripture.” He isn’t wrong. Building happens a brick at a time, an intentional act at a time. When I carry in my head endless possibilities of what could happen (and probably won’t), what has happened, what else is happening, I often don’t have space for the person in front of me, the action for them at this moment.

It was a helpful thing I used to do, having those words in front of me. I still can.

Here. Now.

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