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Triage

My day started simply enough.  A routine call took me to deliver a KJV Bible.  As the RN tended to the patient's blood pressure concerns, I waited in the hallway.  This allowed me to witness one person requesting others to be in several different places, all at the same time.  I quipped to two CNAs nearby observing the exchange that should they determine how to "be in two or three places all at the same time," they must share that with me.  One woman began wondering aloud about all the $$$ she could make if such a potion were available. 

One aspect of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) is developing the ability to perform 'triage' when multiple calls hit in rapid succession, if not all at the same time.  The phone may ring, the pager beep and vibrate, or someone catch sight of 'Chaplain' on your badge and grab you when you least expect it.  To 'triage' means to sort through those different situations to assess the medical urgencies and determine priority of need.  In my case as a hospital chaplain, it is to determine spiritual needs and prioritize accordingly. 

Sometimes a code dictates a response.  The ETA given helps determine how quickly someone will arrive via chopper or ambulance.  If someone calls, I can try to guage through their voice or verbiage how quickly I must respond, and how.  At least in those instances, I can ask if I do not fully understand.  If I see someone in distress or they see me, I must stop to try to be 'present in the here and now'.   

On top of everything else, the nursing union has been in intense negotiations with the hospital administration regarding a new contract.  Today and tomorrow, union members will be voting how to proceed, and there is a very real possibility a strike may be called.  The MD heading the area under which Spiritual Care falls, and my CPE supervisor, both gave me the head-up Friday that emotions are running high and that tensions would be evident.  Help with staff morale, care for the patients.  If it gets to be too much, call in reinforcements as needed.  Oh boy for me.

Fortunately (not yet anyway), I've not had the page, call and personal encounter challenge all at once.  But I have been tugged to move from one thing to another, trying to be where I am, and not hurry too quickly to where I might be next.  It may be that this will be one of those days.  The little hint already has prepared me for that which may still come today, or sometime in the future. 

But regardless of how quickly I can or may act, or just how much of me there is to go around, I trust that God is already there before I arrive, and that God will remain long after I've come and gone.  It is not me who does anything, but offer the ministry of presence; it is God who works, with or without me.  God is the great physician and caregiver.  I am God's foot soldier, offering myself in service to go, be and be with. 

I know there is nothing so great that God and I cannot handle it together, as long as I remember to ask for the Lord's help.  I ask for it as I entered today, I ask again for it now as I sit and type, and I will continue to ask as I go forth into this place, and beyond.  For all things are possible with God.  I believe that.  No, I know that.  And my prayer continues to be:

Almighty Father, your Seeking Servant prays for guidance.  Amen.