Since receiving my news of becoming an Ordinand I have felt a little adrift. I have a sense of feeling ready to move on yet I’m in the waiting area, perhaps I am back in the wilderness waiting to make the first steps in my new future ministry. Whilst wandering this lonely path I have found great strength from working as a Chaplian in my local hospital.
I have been working shifts in A&E on Mondays between 2pm and 4pm, these are the busiest times apparently. I was nervous at first, would people want to talk to me when they are in need of urgent treatment? As soon as I began my shifts I knew that I was here to serve the people there and it has felt like a real privilege to walk with people through their time in the department.
I have experienced some very moving moments where elderly people have clutched my hand with worry in their eyes, to sharing jokes with younger patients. I’ve tucked people up in blankets, made phone calls to relatives, provided drinks, taken off shoes, tied up hospital robes, provided tissues, laughed, cried, and prayed.
On one particular shift a lovely elderly man came in on his own, he had broken his hip and had just found out the bad news that he needed an urgent operation. He was worried, upset, and in pain. I popped up to his bed, he was in the corridor as it was that busy. I introduced myself as a chaplain, and smiled. He smiled back and told me what had happened. As he lay back tired and in pain he said to me, “I am thirsty”. I checked with the doctor that he could have a drink and I helped him to drink small amounts from a flimsy plastic cup. I stayed with him for a while and then I said goodbye.
It wasn’t until our chaplaincy team meeting today that I realised how important our role is as a chaplain. How we bring the Holy Spirit with us as we serve these ill people. A colleague, a Sister, spoke about the moment with my gentleman in regards to Jesus on the cross saying that he was thirsty. Jesus was tired, in pain, upset, just like that man I met. I felt very moved as she spoke of the comparable notion of giving Jesus a drink on the cross as I had done to the man. As I listened to her words I had a wonderful reiteration of the importance of the good news of Jesus we bring to others, I felt that fire once again that made me step out and say yes to God’s calling on my life.
Being a witness to that good news means that we see Jesus walking with us where people are in pain, suffering, tired and thirsty like he himself experienced on the cross. It feels that in A&E we are walking around the foot of the cross keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, helping those who are suffering to see him through us.
I pray that with every blanket I cover someone with, with every drink I make, every hand I hold, every tear I wipes away, that that person may see the love of our Lord Jesus Christ shining through into their darkness and time of need.