Many of my friends and colleagues are chaplains. They work in hospitals, retirement communities, colleges and universities. They serve hospice patients and the military wounded.
And they also serve the overworked staffs in those hospitals, retirement communities, colleges, universities, hospices and military bases.
When I was a hospital chaplain after seminary, I spent about half my time with NICU and pediatric cancer patients and their parents, and the other half with exhausted medical professionals who watched their tiny patients die on a regular basis.
Today we need to support our chaplains. Like parish pastors chaplains tend both to their own congregations and to the surrounding community. Here’s how we can help:
- If you know any chaplains personally, send them a gift card for carry-out food or send them a note reminding them that they are amazing.
- If you do not know any chaplains personally, write Thank You notes (preferably with gift cards inside) and address to Campus Ministry on your local campus or to The Department of Pastoral Care in your local hospital or to The Chaplain’s Office in your local retirement community or hospice center.
- Write notes to people in assisted living and health care units in your local retirement community. Who cares if you don’t know them by name? Write a cheery note. Send a photo of something beautiful. Remind them that they are not forgotten even in quarantine. Tell them you will pray for them and then pray for them. (This also supports their overwhelmed chaplains who find comfort in knowing there are others who care.)
- Contact the administration office of your local retirement community and find out what you can do for the low wage workers who clean and cook. Order pizza for the housekeeping department. Be creative while being cognizant of social distancing. (Believe me, this will help the chaplains who work alongside them.)
- For children and those who live/work with children: draw pictures to send to those in isolation in nursing homes and retirement communities. You can address them to the chaplain or pastoral care office and somebody will deliver them for you.
More businesses and recreational sites might be open now that Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. But where I live, the outbreaks continue and – in some places – are increasing.
Our chaplains are on the front lines with doctors, nurses, and therapists. This is a good day to thank them. It’s more productive than eating a package of Oreos or downing a bottle of wine.