R is for Ready

(This post is part of my continuing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

Not long ago, my boyfriend and I took his two sons to a local waterpark, on one of the Saturdays I didn’t have to work. It was a fun day, and I felt quite relaxed as we floated down the Lazy River on inner tubes. But just then, I heard a familiar beeping, and I wasn’t so relaxed anymore. It took me a moment to locate the source of the sound. It was not, as my mind had instantaneously concluded, coming from the pager I carry at work in the hospital. Rather one of the nearby water slides used a very similar tone to let the person working at the top of the slide know that it was safe to send the next rider down. Once I figured that out, I breathed a sigh of relief. Still, after nine years of responding to all kinds of emergency calls that begin with that sound, I had a Pavlovian response to it every single time, a small rush of adrenaline. Some subconscious part of my brain has learned that when I hear that sound, I have to immediately be ready for anything.  Continue reading “R is for Ready”

Advertisements

What Chaplains Don’t Do

Because this is Pastoral Care Week, I’ll be part of an event at my hospital which includes a reading from my book, and a question and answer session on the role of healthcare chaplains. The event is co-sponsored by our Pastoral Care department and the hospital’s Humanities Committee (of which I am a member), and has been advertised all over campus. Someone who saw the flyers was concerned that in a hospital committed to diversity and inclusion, we were promoting Christianity. I had to laugh at the irony. Such misconceptions of what chaplains do are exactly why such an event is needed! Continue reading “What Chaplains Don’t Do”

P is for Prayer

610iv9BEKwL

(This post is part of the ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

“Why do we look down?” I asked my grandmother one Sunday after prayer time in church. “Isn’t God up in heaven? How come we don’t pray looking up?” My childhood question was a sincere one, but I don’t worry so much now about the right posture for praying. As a hospital chaplain, I have seen and participated in countless forms of prayer. I no longer think that God would be more likely to hear us if we looked in the right direction. Anytime we pray — and I believe we all do, whether or not we call it prayer — we are somehow looking for, reaching out for God.  Continue reading “P is for Prayer”

N is for No

(This post is part of the ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

It was the most abrupt end to a patient visit I’ve ever had as a hospital chaplain. I had told the man that his comments were beginning to make me uncomfortable, and that if he didn’t go back to talking about something in which I could actually be of help to him in pastoral care terms, then I would leave. He continued saying inappropriate things, so I stood up to go. As I walked out of the patient’s room, all the visitors and staff members in the hall could hear him yelling at me, “Just one night! I need you! I NEED YOU!” Whether it was his medication talking or something else, he insisted that the answer to his numerous problems was spending one night with “a good woman like you.” I had no problem telling him no. Continue reading “N is for No”

Being Called Author

Titlepage

We are just four days away from the ebook publication of Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith, my very first book! This is a dream come true for me, and a process six years in the making. I still remember the day, just a few months after moving to the Charleston area, that I was walking the Ravenel Bridge with my friend Anita and I told her, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I just don’t know what I’d write about!” The next year or so was a case of “be careful what you wish for,” as I got enough material for two books, at least. Continue reading “Being Called Author”

ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy: C is for Charting

When I began my first unit of CPE, way back in 2006, I remember the awesome sense of responsibility I had each time I got to document one of my patient visits. I can’t believe we get to write in the patients’ charts, I thought, just like doctors do! Over the next several years and hundreds, maybe thousands of visits, charting became much less exciting. It was part of the routine, something to check off the list of tasks that must be done. “If you didn’t chart it, it didn’t happen,” my CPE supervisor told us. So I charted my visits, over and over and over again. Every job involves paperwork, I suppose, and this is ours. (And yes, when I started out, most of the charting we did was still on paper, writing with an actual pen on a form in a binder. It’s all electronic now.)  Continue reading “ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy: C is for Charting”

The Value of Being Needy

hand

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”

About the title, part 3: Lady

I’ve never been a big fan of the word “Lady.”  In my mind (having been raised in the American south), I picture ladies sipping tea on the front porch, quiet, genteel, not a hair out of place.  When I was growing up, all I heard about ladies was that they didn’t do whatever it was that I was doing.  A lady doesn’t run indoors.  A lady doesn’t slouch.  A lady doesn’t talk with her mouth full.  A lady doesn’t interrupt.  A lady doesn’t jump on the bed.  Being a lady sounded like no fun at all! Continue reading “About the title, part 3: Lady”

About the title, part 1: Chaplain

Other than my first name, “Chaplain” is the one word I get called most often.  Come to think of it, I may even answer to “Chaplain” more often than to “Stacy.”  I began as a chaplain intern in 2006, and since then it has become not only my career and calling, but a huge part of my identity.  Being a chaplain has definitely changed me and what I believe in lots of ways.  I would even go so far as to say that becoming a chaplain has changed the God I believe in, but I’m okay with that.  I was believing in the wrong one before, a god too small, too easy.  And even now, I know my best guess at Who/What I’m worshiping can’t possibly be right.  But since I’m going to err anyway, I’d rather err on the side of grace and love.  That’s what I try to do in the hospital, where God somehow trusts me to walk alongside those who are suffering, bringing their awareness not only to my presence but to the presence of God who is Love, and hopefully showing them in some real way that they are not alone. Continue reading “About the title, part 1: Chaplain”