Monday, August 25, 2014

Inspiration and encouragement for the Chaplain

You are called to sway the balance. Everyday you will witness uncaring and unjust healthcare delivery, and you must sometimes be like the rose in the desert. There is a beautiful passage in the book of Isaiah, chapter 35, verse 1, “The desert shall rejoice and blossom like a rose.” Let your ministry be guided by this idea. Patients and families experience many deserts, burning deserts, scorching deserts that leave them empty of meaning, empty of content, empty of substance. Help them to sing Hallelujah in a new key, and to be witnesses to the transforming power of love. When you are in the desert, plant a rose. You will face obstacles and lots of them! No, good things do not always happen to good people, contrary to the best-selling book title. That is much too simple. Do not expect things to be easy! No, you will not always be rightly valued. Sometimes you will be rejected and scorned. But when you succeed, as you will, the place where you minster will have come to acknowledge your depth of connection, your wisdom, and your ability to communicate with patients and families at the deeper levels of ultimate meaning. So plant a rose of peace, a rose of reconciliation, a rose of faith, hope and love. And the desert will blossom. Clinicians will blossom, patients will blossom, whole hospitals will blossom, and you will blossom, even bioethicists will blossom. And as the Psalm reads, “Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” It will not be easy, and not everyone will sing your praises or attend your funerals, but nevertheless, as St. Paul wrote, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Never forget that the affirmation of the patient’s significance is profoundly important in times of severe illness. In the words of e.e. cummings: “We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that something deep inside us is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch." What a marvelous encouragement to Chaplains both new and seasoned. This speech was given by Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., a bestselling author of The Hidden Gifts of Helping: How the Power of Giving, Compassion, and Hope Can Get Us Through Hard Times. Post is professor of preventive medicine, head of the Division of Medicine in Society, and director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University. He was previously professor of Bioethics, Religion and Philosophy, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, and senior research scholar at the Becket Institute of St. Hugh's College, Oxford University. Post is a senior fellow in the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. Published June 20, 2012, Vol. 9, No. 10, in PlainViews® a publication of HealthCare Chaplaincy Network™.

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