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Check out my latest thoughts in the article below.
I want to say a big thanks to all of my generous financial patrons who make my ministry possible. And, extra appreciation goes out to my Jubilee sponsors:
Jubilee Sponsors: Shaun and Sonya Connolly, Bryan Jaster, Brent and Anne Johnson and Robbie Tomaszewski
The siren blares a short but potent whoop overhead. A boxy voice crackles through the speaker. “CODE BLUE. Core Tower 4th floor!” My pager* sounds and the location of the code pops up on the faint LCD display. My heart beats a little faster in my chest as I head out of the door toward a room where a patient’s heart has stopped, and the medical team is frantically trying to regain a pulse by doing CPR.
If you’ve never seen someone getting CPR, know that it is nothing like what you see in medical dramas on TV. It’s not a few presses on the chest, followed by a person shouting, “Don’t give up! Breathe!!” No. It’s violent and exhausting. There are people lined up to take their turn as the person in front of them runs out of energy. It is high-stress, and a lot of things are happening all at once.
I don’t participate in giving CPR. My job is to care for any family who is present... or if no family is there, call and let them know what is happening. There is a lot of frantic energy all around during a code, but when I’m comforting a family or calling to let them know their loved one’s heart has stopped, I can’t match that energy. My job is to be a calming presence.
People often say to me things like, “I don’t know how you do what you do. Isn’t it stressful?” The short answer is yes. Yes, responding to a CODE BLUE (and to the countless other traumas and crises I respond to in the hospital) is stressful. But in a crisis, people need someone who can be present with them and provide a beacon of peace in the terrible storm they are experiencing. If I can’t consistently be that for people, then I need to find a new line of work, STAT!
So, how do I do it? How do I extend peace to the people I serve when nothing about the situation is peaceful?
There’s no magic formula. There is no one thing I say or do... and I certainly don’t always get it right. I don’t have perfect inner peace or some superpower that allows me to never experience panic, anxiety, or stress. But there is a foundational practice for the peace I know and try to extend to others.
Solitude is something I must embrace with intention or else I would quickly flame out in my work. Solitude is being intentional about getting quiet. It's about being still and knowing that God is God. It’s about breathing deep and allowing the Spirit to remind me that I am made in the image of the author of peace that passes all understanding.
Henri Nouwen said,
“In solitude, we come to know the Spirit who has already been given to us. The pains and struggles we encounter in our solitude thus become the way to hope, because our hope is not based on something that will happen after our sufferings are over, but on the real presence of God’s healing Spirit in the midst of these sufferings.”
I don’t know the extent of what you are facing right now, but I imagine you could use a little peace.
Let me know if I can be helpful along the way.
- For those of you who weren’t alive in the 80s, a pager is what people used to use before there were mobile phones. It beeps and then a message pops up on the display with a phone number to call and maybe a few other details. Then, you would go to the phone (which was on the wall, not in your pocket) and call whoever paged you. In my job as a chaplain, I carry a pager. I carry an iPhone too, but the pager is the fastest way to let me know where I’m needed and why.