Showing posts from January, 2006

Return to the Overnight Shift

Well, it's 2:00 am and I'm at the hospital. My evening started off rather quietly at 6:00 and it wasn't until 8:30 that we had our first trauma. After that, we were inundated with arrivals and Ruth (the other chaplain) and I are only now returning to the Pastoral Care office where we will wait with nervous anticipation for our next page.

The one death tonight was the result of a single gunshot wound to the face. The patient, so the doctors say, probably died instantly and his death was proclaimed shortly after his arrival at the ER. It took quite some time for the staff to figure out the man's identity...several hours to figure out his name.

Several things occur to me at this time. First, this young man woke up this morning and showered and got dressed and probably never thought that this would be the last time he ate his corn flakes or ate Jell-O. Maybe stopped at the Post Office to send the last payment for his car...maybe he paid off his student loan. Did he speak to…

Trinity Irish Dancing Company

This weekend my sister Torrey was kind enough to get me free tickets to see the Trinity Irish Dancing Company perform in Palos Hills, IL. Eric Sundrup and Patrick Gilday joined me in attending the event.

Now, anyone who knows my tastes in Irish music will know that I love the tradition. I am often frustrated when I encounter musicians who play Irish tunes and, by this fact, believe themselves to be Irish musicians. There's something to be said for allowing oneself to be immersed in the flow of the tradition, to be informed by it, and when all is said and done, to be confident enough in adding one's own voice to it.

Well, the best of the Irish tradition was shown forth on Saturday. I was terrifically impressed by the caliber of the dancing, the enthusiasm of the dancers, and proud to call this performance a part of my heritage. Being its first show of the season there were a few blunders and there are a number of new dancers who've still quite a bit to learn, but all in all t…

Working at 2:00 am

It's just about 2:00 am and this is the first time I've sat down since I arrived at 6:00 pm. It has been an exhausting shift so far.

This evening I was with two people as they died. In neither case was the death expected to come as it did and I had the privilege of accompanying the family members in negotiating the first cataracts of grief and loss. To pray with them, to be with them at this vulnerable time is a great grace...a great honor...and in the best possible way, a blessed burden. I find myself searching for words, for gestures, for ways of being more present to them and their needs. And yet, in spite of all my attempts, I find myself giving way to something else, the holy Other who works through each of us, and I realize that any comfort provided to these people is not of my account, but through God using this imperfect minister to convey a healing presence.

I'm often tempted to write about my struggle with faith. I believe because I pray...and sometimes my beliefs…

Mid-Way through my LONG DAY


I was pleasantly suprised a few minutes ago to log into my email account to find the inbox simply bursting with correspondences. It was good to hear from Abba Enyak (Father of Ethan "Ryan wanted to name me Rahner" Abercrombie). It seems that Eric (Enyak is his Ryan-christened name) might soon be moving to Florida where his wife will make loads of money and Eric will be gainfully employed by a hospital and they will be happy to hire a Jesuit tutor to come to Florida to tutor their son in theology.

I spent the last eight hours doing what were here at Loyola Medical Center call "Magis" training. Magis, Latin for more, is the disposition to patient care that employees are to strive from. Although our trainer did not put it as such, the attempt to strive for the "more" in any setting originates with the recognition that any job worth doing at all is worth doing well. Too often we approach tasks with an attitude of "good enough" but striving for…

And so it begins...

As of this moment, I've completed my first two days of Clinical Pastoral Education. I should offer this as a caveat: my reaction to this program will be havily biased for no other reason than the program affords me the opportunity to wear a white lab coat. It's a simple thing, to be sure, but anyone who remembers me from my pre-med days will recall that I always wanted a lab coat. My dream has come true.

Truthfully, this is going to be a draining and demanding experience. Due to confidentiality issues, I'm nervous about talking too freely about the happenings at the hospital. This is such a graced time in my life in that I am able to companion people at their most vulnerable stages and I do not want to say or do anything that would compromise the integrity of the relationships I develop. As time passes, I'll certainly explore my own reactions, but I doubt highly whether I'll share funny necdonte from the hospital...unless, of course, they involve me alone.

I don…