During each of our years at the Seminary we are assigned a different ministry. This can include such things as working with the homeless, prison ministry, parish work and hospitals. As a Second Year Theologian I am assigned to visit a hospital every Wednesday for the entire year. I am going to be completely upfront with you, hospitals make me a bit nervous.
I remember one time speaking with a good friend who told me she didn't visit a close family member who was dying in the hospital. When I inquired why, she told me that she hated hospitals. It really rubbed me the wrong way because I knew that her family member longed to see her. Sure we all hate hospitals, but not as much as those who are forced to stay in them. I imagine it is the sick who hate the hospitals most of all.
All of this being said I am nervous to begin hospital ministry. Between encountering, severe illnesses, suffering and death, and the complete uncertainty one confronts at every turn, hospital ministry is daunting at the very least. However, as daunting as the task at hand is, it is also a critical part of ministry and bringing hope and comfort to those in need.
Due to the confidential nature of hospital ministry there is little I will be able to share beyond my own feelings. Nevertheless, I will do my best to keep you posted on my personal progress.
Today I was able to tour the hospital's many departments and floors. Seeing the enormity of the facility, and the full range of patients they see, (emergency room, trauma, icu, pediatrics, maternity,burn victims)I was struck by the full spectrum present. Hearing the specific details of what I might encounter and the conditions many patients suffer from, made me realize just how challenging an assignment this will be. Hearing how one's presence can bring comfort to those suffering, brings me great strength and a desire to get the most humanely possible from this experience. Happily the Pastoral Care Team is wonderful and ready to help me grow during this year.