A Chaplain Considers…

In a busy hospital having space to collect one’s thoughts and tend to one’s spiritual needs is important for good health. Over the past few weeks I have had reason to reflect on this.

In the course of my rounds I met a man who opened the conversation with telling me how important the chapel had been to him. When unable to sleep through the stress of his health he had found the chapel. For him the atmosphere in the chapel was in stark contrast to the busy assessment ward he was in. In the chapel he was able to slow down and gain a perspective on what was happening. After talking for a while be looked me in the eye and said ‘don’t get me wrong I’m not religious. but chapel created the space for me to calm down’.

Between the Chapel and the chaplains’ office is the Prayer Room. A place for people who want a space that is not Christian to pray. An earlier generation of chaplains fought to have this room created when the new hospital was built and then to get carpet on the floor so it can be used for prayer. This room is in constant use as patients and staff come to prayer. Having a space to pray five times a day meets the spiritual needs for many, enhancing the service the staff can provide and the healing journey of patients and their families.

Likewise the chapel is used for regular worship. A staff prayer meeting on Saturday mornings; a Roman Catholic group on weekday afternoons and Mass on Sunday and Tuesday. Father Patrick reports that staff families are coming in so that the family can take Mass together. Each of these gatherings is an important expression of faith and serves to build community and support for those working and using the hospital.

My final reflection was of meeting a man who by his tattoos has had gang associations at some stage of his life. He was now receiving palliative care. He called for me to come over to him and asked if I could get him a King James Bible with large print. The Bible Society supplies us with Good News Bibles and I offered one of them, but I could tell he really wanted a King James. Commenting to one of our volunteers, a Salvation Army Officer, she said that she has some as an elderly women gives her a King James each month to give to those who need one. The next day I had a large print King James Bible to give to this man. He thanked me with tears running down over the tattoo of a skull on his cheek. Moved by his response I ask Why the King James? He replied “its for the language, the language is so beautiful.” I bid him farewell with a prayer as he went to the hospice.

Spirituality is an important part of health, the health of the person, the institution, and the community. As a chaplain I give thanks to CCDHB for the Chapel and Prayer Room, and the Bible Society for the supply of Bibles. Their value can be measured in money, for when ones Spiritual needs are being met we do better in hospital.

Chaplain Ross Scott

(Published in the June 2014 newsletter.)