Holy Interruptions

Most people don’t like to be interrupted. I’m no exception, especially when I’m in the middle of speaking. Where I don’t mind it so much is when I’m busy with a project at work or at home. There’s a person I used to work with who like Cosmo Kramer would burst into Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment unannounced. I would be busy at my desk, lost in thought, writing, or making a phone call and in would come Kramer pontificating his story mid sentence like a steam of consciousness rapper. Because I shared an office, and knew that Kramer’s actions annoyed everyone but me, I let him have the spotlight, engaging him with clarifying questions or comments to the chagrin of everyone’s occupied selves.

Recently, I’ve noticed my son has a bit of Kramer within him. I’ll be reading a book or relaxing at the end of the day, and in he’ll come, iPad in hand to show me his latest Minecraft creations. Honestly, his obsession with Minecraft used to bother me. I’ve come to accept it as of late, and marvel in his creativity. His artistry and expressiveness have come a long way. Both of us have grown.

I work as a hospital chaplain. My job description should read, Comfortable interrupting patients, staff and guests of the hospital. I interrupt nurses when they’re charting a patient’s record. I interrupt doctors when they’re on rounds. I interrupt patient’s when they’re Facetiming a loved one. Perhaps I could simplify my job description to say that chaplains are holy interrupters. Brian Doyle describes us this way,

[Chaplains] are the ones who knock gently on the doors of patients who are dazed and afraid and in pain, and stick their heads in and ask gently if they can be of service, and many times endure the lash of rude and vulgar response, and have to accept that as the price of doing business; and they are the ones who sometimes walk softly into the room and lay hands on hands or heads and whisper prayers and ask for blessings and healing and restored strength if at all possible, and those are hard things to ask for when the being in the bed is so patiently broken and bruised and frightened and helpless no matter how hard you pray or how huge your empathetic heart; and [chaplains] are the ones who then knock on the next door and the next, day after day week after week, sometimes for many years…”

~A Book of Uncommon Prayer

I’ve been both interrupted and an interrupter. Like Kramer, God has burst into my life, gifts in hand with a story to tell. Like my son, the Divine keeps showing me [their] creative mind in the people I meet and the thin places I navigate. This week begins Spiritual Health Week. If you know or have known a chaplain or pastoral counselor whose made a difference in your, or a loved ones’ life, take time to say ‘thank you,’ or keep them in your prayers. You’ll never know when they may be by to knock on your door and give you a holy interruption.

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