The Subversive Power of Gratitude

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Although you would hardly know it judging by all the Christmas decorations that go up even before the first of November, there is another holiday to celebrate this time of year.  And it may be more important than we realize, especially in difficult times.  I remember having dinners with my cousin and his wife, who were both pretty hostile toward religion, but no meal could begin until she had said, “I’m so thankful for this food and these people.”  I was young and a recent convert to Christianity, so I was bewildered.  One day I finally asked her, “Who are you giving thanks to when you say that?”  She smiled patiently and answered, “I don’t know really, but I have to say it.”   I think she was right.  We all have a need to give thanks. Continue reading “The Subversive Power of Gratitude”

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Why We Still Need to Have This Conversation

modernmagnificat

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the release of The Modern Magnificat: Women Responding to the Call of God.  I’m proud to be one of the women who contributed a ministerial calling story to this collection edited by Jennifer Harris Dault.  I was discussing the book, and my calling, with a friend recently, as we were both reading Sarah Bessey’s new book, Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of WomenAn acquaintance walked by and overheard us.  “Another book about women?” he said laughingly.  “Didn’t you just go hear some other author talk about this same thing?”  He was referring to a convocation with Rachel Held Evans I attended in September, at which she discussed her book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  “That’s an important issue, I know.  But there are other things the church needs to focus on,” he said.  “Why do we need to keep having the same conversation?” Continue reading “Why We Still Need to Have This Conversation”

The Value of Being Needy

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Wandering through the ER, I asked after an employee I know well, trying my best to hold back tears.  “Is B___ working tonight?”  A few staff members said that she was, but that they hadn’t seen her in a little while.  Finally one nurse told me, “I think she got sent to the C side.”  I made my way to that section of the emergency department, and found B___ sitting at the nurses’ station, thankfully not busy.  “Hey, Chaplain,” she greeted me with a smile.  “What are you doing over here?”

“I just needed . . . somebody,” I told her, letting the tears comeContinue reading “The Value of Being Needy”

Worse Than Death?

Recently, a friend of a friend asked me a question about death.  She is a new employee at a hospital in another state.  Though we haven’t seen each other in years, she remembered that I was a chaplain, got my number from our mutual friend, and wanted to talk.  “I’m not a religious person,” she began.  “I’m not even sure I believe in God.  But if there is a God, I need to know if he’ll judge me for this.  I’ve killed three people already.”  Confused, I asked her to explain about these killings.  She told me how she had been the one to remove the breathing tubes and turn off the ventilators for three terminal patients.  “I know it’s my job,” she said.  “And it’s what the families decided to do, and the patients probably would have died anyway.  But they died sooner because of me, you know?  I’m the one who took them off the vent.  They stopped breathing at that moment because of me.  Will God punish me for that?”  I could hear the tremor in her voice.  “I wanted to do this job to help people.  And I do.  I help a lot of people.  But I didn’t count on being the actual instrument of death for some patients, you know?  I don’t know how to deal with that.” Continue reading “Worse Than Death?”