Sunday, October 05, 2014

Where God shows up

A.Hanson, NYC 2014
I am currently working as a hospital chaplain at a Level 1 Trauma Center.  There are thousands of moments that I think about writing about, and then inevitably the exhaustion wins out and I never actually do it.  So I have lots of half-baked thoughts rattling around in my head.

During my shift last night I was called in to support a patient who was being discharged soon and is homeless. These are the sorts of situations where I feel utterly helpless.

This patient has been homeless for 18 years, camping in barns and outbuildings. He is chronically ill after many years of hard living (drinking, lack of healthcare, and sleeping outdoors). He is quite possibly unable to survive "sleeping rough" anymore. He's been trying to get into homeless shelters, but is not having luck anywhere.  His nurses don't want to discharge him, but at the same time, there are people who are sicker who need the hospital bed.  And somehow in the midst of all that human misery, the chaplain shows up.

After we talked for awhile, this man asked if I would pray for him.  Before I begin a prayer with a patient, I always say a quick prayer that is something along the lines of "God, let my words be what you would have them be."  In my prayers with this patient last night I found that the words were not my own.  I prayed to a God who "knows what it means to be homeless because you were born in a stable in a land that was not your own."  It felt like a meager offering.

But somehow it was comforting to this gentle man.  He remarked, "You know, I lived in a barn too.  I know that God is with me."

And that is where God shows up.

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