Category Archives: Chaplain’s Thoughts

The Real Me

My wife, daughter and I were talking before we went to bed last night and I said something funny. “I go to work every day and with my bruised and bloody, bare hands I will dig into granite to extract just a single grain of a compliment” My wife howled, “Larry, that is you. You are a compliment junkie.” My daughter laughed. I laughed too, because it is good to see oneself once and a while. The clear view refreshes.

Yes, it’s true I will sell my shoes and last pair of socks while walking outdoors in a blizzard for just for a scrap of recognition. Sometimes, I think that my ego is as fragile as Faberge egg tossed into the teeth of a category four hurricane.

On occasion, I have been known to perform the flat-footed, clodhopper, mountain dance at the mere whiff of a request. That’s me. That’s who I am. And that does not make me a terrible person? No, just human.

A person who will drive home and smile about the real me as I wait for the red-light.

How about your drive home?

Our Calling And Our Blessing

Our clinical team can reduce or alleviate a resident’s physical pain with a pill or a shot, but there are so many other forms of pain – loneliness, hopelessness, purposelessness that can be reduced or alleviated by our smiles, our love, our active listening, our prayers and our blessings.

Albert Schweitzer, discussing his life and its purpose once said “We must all die, but if I can save someone from days of torture, that is what I feel is my great and ever new privilege. Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind than even death itself.”

We can make a difference. This is our calling. This is our blessing.

Chris Lawrence – Director of Spirituality
Signature HealthCARE of Orange Park

 

“A Resident’s Wish”

A few days ago I asked one of our resudents what is the one thing that I could do for him, or did he have a specific wish. His answer was,

“I would like to ride around to some of the places where I use to go, and see some of the scenery that I havn’t seen in a long time. I would also like to go to “Beas” , (a 60 year year old restaurant in Chattanooga) and eat.”

This past Thursday he and I spent almost five hours together, and 150 miles doing what he wished to do.I let him tell me where wanted to go, and what he wanted to do,..it was such a blessing to see his eyes light up like a kid at Christmas as he would point out some particular place, or tell me something about the days of past.

I took my camera and took a lot of pictures of everything he wanted to take pictures of,.. pictures of cows, barns, old signs, pastures, etc. When we finally arrived at “Beas”, I told the manager of the restaurant who I was and a little about my elder friend,..he got his name and in a little while came over and gave him a big welcome,.he was so delighted! We had a wonderful day, and experiences that I will never forget! What I gave him cost very little monetary wise,…but the one thing that I gave him , and the one that mattered the most was my time!

Ronnie Case – Director of Spirituality
The Bridge at South Pittsburg, TN

 

We Can If We Will

When I worked in a steel mill, we used large battery powered fork lifts which were capable of carrying over 40,000 pounds. Their batteries were recharged daily and because charging batteries give off highly explosive hydrogen gas, the walls behind, around and over the charging stations had huge three foot high red letter warnings: “DANGER! EXPLOSIVE GAS! NO SMOKING! In short, the only way you could miss it, was to be blind or stupid. One day I saw three men smoking right in front of the charging station. If it hadn’t been so serious, it would have been funny, because they could have been an advertisement for stupidity, standing there smoking while ringed with huge red no smoking signs.

I asked them if they could read. One of them laughed and assured me that they could, so I asked them to step away from the enclave and look back at the wall. “What do you see?” I asked.

The first man answered, “What?” The second answered “Yeh, so what? I’ve worked here for a long time and I ain’t never seen one blow up.”

I told him that if he had seen one blow up, he would not be alive. I tried to explain to them just how serious the danger was, and that it was actually far greater than they realized because at that very moment, we were purging line furnaces with hydrogen gas, and a spark could have touched off an explosion which would have wiped out that entire section of the mill, and a large portion of the surrounding community.

The “It can’t happen to me” attitude that these three exhibited, amazes me. Most of us, live with that notion, and in truth, that is not all bad, but when it causes us to ignore obvious danger, or to throw caution to the wind, and place ourselves and others in jeopardy, that’s a different story. As these men did, we often take for granted that because something has never happened, it cannot happen. Or we assume that because something has always been, it will continue unchanged.

Each of us must examine our hearts. We must seek to see where we can do our jobs more efficiently, and more effectively. It does not matter what your job is. It can be done better, and with God’s help, this will be a better year. We can if I will.

Chaplain Fred Jeans

 

My Life Coach

Laura is my Life Coach.

Yes, I’ve taken on a life coach at the delightful age of 59. My mentor is in her eighties and a resident and she is teaching me to laugh throughout the day at nothing in particular.

Lately, I try to chortle every time I hear her (and she must laugh from her very soul up and down the halls at least one hundred times a day) and already my chuckling has increased about two hundred percent. She is teaching me to laugh for no particular reason at all which is the high art of all great philosophers and which also just may increase my life span without costing me a dime.

I like my new Life Coach she teaches me the art of living through laughing. And she is so talented, wise and subtle that she doesn’t make me feel like a student.

 

“A Milky Way and A Prayer”

“A Milky Way and a Prayer”

Today was certainly a new experience for me. I was intercom paged by our nursing staff. I was asked to do an intervention for a resident that had a change in medication that seemingly brought on a change in behavior. Her nurse said they were challenged by her crying, body jerking, and a sense of restlessness.

As I travelled down the hall, I asked God to give me not only the words to comfort, but for the action. I entered the room of a lady I already knew had strength in the Lord and in her faith. Her body was shaking, her eyes swollen from her tears, and her hair a mess from twisting in her bed. She smiled and said “come in Pastor”. I sat on her bed and held her shaking hand. I asked her to tell me her concerns. She explained a change in her medication and that her Parkinson’s was worsening. I suggested we focus on happy things, like her grandchildren, her artwork, and her relationship with God. I felt her hand calming as she shared. I asked her what would bring her comfort. Her response was “prayer”.

We prayed together, first thanking God for his blessings and then specifically for comfort for her troubles. Her trembling completely stopped. I then asked if I could reposition her pillow, to support her head and shoulders. A sigh of relief came from her lips. I then proceeded to ask “if I could get you anything to make you comfortable, what would it be?” She responded “there is a bag of milky ways in my dresser, you’ll have to open it for me”. I placed an open milky way in her steady hand.

As I walked up the hall, our nurse practitioner stopped me and said “What did you do for Mrs. S? She is resting”. My comment you already know: “I gave her a milky way and a prayer”. God blesses us with the little things in life, that mean so much to those we serve.

Chaplain Steve McKinney

 

“Lights In The Parkway” by Chaplain Jerry Herauf

Our brand new Men’s Club was looking for things to do, especially during the holiday season. The “Lights in the Parkway” display in Allentown (PA) seemed like a natural.

As advertised on their website: “This spectacular drive-through light display transforms more than a mile of one of Allentown’s most beautiful parks, the Lehigh Parkway, into a winter wonderland. Featuring hundreds of thousands of brilliant lights – this attraction will brighten your holiday season. Visitors will experience tunnels, animated holiday scenes and more. “Lights” has become an annual tradition for many throughout the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Lights in the Parkway is fun for all ages.”

This seemed like just the right venue for our Club!

Bundling up eight club members in our van, in two trips just before Christmas, we headed off to see the “Lights!” It was a time of quiet chatting – we’re gradually just getting to know one another in the Club – and enthusiasm. Some commented they hadn’t been there in years and were looking forward to seeing the lights again.

Then, at last, the drive-through. ‘Oohs’ and ‘aahs’ were expressed as we passed by the many displays of bright lights and colors. The Wizard of Oz was a special attraction! All were delighted as they tuned in, for a few precious moments, to their boyhoods and Christmas. One of the elders remarked that it made his holiday – the chaplain who organized the trip was certainly one of his heroes that evening!

Already, we’re looking forward to next year’s “Lights” and Men’s Club Christmas event!

– Jerry Herauf, Chaplain, New Eastwood Care & Rehab

“We Do It Everyday”

Something just happened about an hour ago. I saw it with my own eyes, heard it with my ears.

A resident was parked in the busy hallway in her wheelchair and the therapist could not move her to get up and walk. She sat like a deeply rooted stump. Dynamite would not move her.

The experienced therapist and I tried flattery, warning, humor, encouragement, everything except promising her a substantial cash prize. She repeated, “My back hurts too much”. So I had the clever idea to whisper a prayer into her ear for just her to hear. Kind of a “Hail Mary” really. The prayer asked for God to help her get up and walk. It lasted three seconds. I prayed and then turned to go my office expecting nothing to happen of consequence, and as I sat down she got up and walked down the hall while the therapist standing out of sight lifted his hands in the air in wonder, shock, puzzlement, and thanks.

True story.

Chaplains are powerful.

We do it everyday.

 

“The Peppermint Stick”

I recall one year, when I was still a baby, that I got the mumps just before Christmas day. I can remember sitting in my high chair trying to eat, and crying because it hurt so much. Now people laugh at me when I tell them that I can remember when I was a baby, and they really scoff when I tell them that I can remember being in my mother’s womb, but that’s another story.

We always got fruit, nuts and candy in our Christmas stockings and that year, we all got a large peppermint candy stick, which was about an inch in diameter, and seven or eight inches long. My jaws hurt from the mumps and I was very sick, but all I could think about was eating some of that candy. It was so beautiful and it looked so delicious, and I wanted so very much, for something to make me feel better, but try as I might, I could not force my lips open far enough to get the job done. The best I could do was to stick my tongue out and lick it a little.

Because I was so sick, I thought eating some of that candy would help me feel better, but even after all of that effort, the candy stick actually tasted terrible and kind of made me sicker. It was quite a long time after I recovered before I tried to eat any more of it, and I actually threw most of it away. When Mom made me some soup, which as I recall, wasn’t all that appealing nor was it pretty, but it sure was good, I eagerly slurped it off of the spoon.

A lot of things in life, people, cars, clothes, houses, etc., are just like that candy stick. They look beautiful, they look delicious, they seem to offer something that will make everything better, and even though we might not be able to afford them; even though they might be the worst thing for us, we do our dead level best to acquire them. We see the ads and buy into the myth that things can make us happy, and we want that promised contentment so much, that we will do anything to get it, but like the candy stick, when we finally get these “things”, they often makes things worse.

Every year, thousands of Americans go deeply in debt, trying to have a “Merry Christmas.” The dangerous world situation, national and international unrest, marital or family problems, illness, job stress, horrible murders like the ones in Connecticut and more, cause all of us to yearn for a happier, merrier Christmas than ever before, but buying things we cannot afford, doing drugs or drinking to excess will not do the trick. TV, newspapers, store fronts, movies, all seem to offer answers, and in our hearts we cry “oh if only…” but as with me and that peppermint stick, reality seldom if ever matches the hype surrounding it.

New cars, different husbands or wives, bigger TVs, parties, clothes or jewelry, or what have you, do not hold the key to happiness. With or without these things you are still you; I am still me, and our problems have not changed. The Bible says “Even though I gain the whole world and do not have love, I have nothing,” and love is the real message of Christmas. Love came down in Bethlehem in the form of a baby. Love went to the cross to open the door to peace of mind and heart through a relationship with God. Love for family and friends is what is most important at any time, and even moreso at Christmas.

Instead of seeking happiness in self indulgence, follow the example of the Wise Men. Seek the one who offers “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.” for “Unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior which is Christ the Lord,” and when you find Him, He’ll share His love with you, and you can share it with others.

May all that is good, all that is helpful, all that is truly beautiful, fill not just your stockings, but your hearts and lives at Christmas and throughout the coming new year.

Chaplain Fred Jeans
Kenilworth Care And Rehab

 

Is There Anyone We Can Follow?

Is there anyone we can follow?

Yes.

And He leads in all areas of life without exception. He even calibrates our relationship with individuals because He doesn’t push a “one plan covers all”. Some people walk around with some parts of their lives under his control and they are usually the unhappy and grumpy religious types who have an idea about what is going on but don’t see the full picture. What if we cast everything on the shoulders of Jesus, everything: job, interruptions, reversals, no money, workmates, children, future, what we will be doing fifteen minutes from now, health, all daily activities, as well as our strong lusts?

Some will say that is like living under a North Korean dictatorship where we continually bow and scrape before the “Beloved Leader”. I see it differently. Imagine being trapped in a mine after a collapse alone, thirsty, and hurt. On day three, a man breaks through with a lantern, medicine, and water and says, “Follow Me”. I will follow that person until we break out into the sunlight and fresh air, wouldn’t you?

So many have so many tiresome and nonsensical rules about living and few of those rules have anything to do with the living God and the living way.

I jettison all except the Living Way.

And You?

 

PS. In the last five days two surprising things have occurred. First of all, we have been asked by a local hospital to serve as a CPE training site for ministers and secondly, I just received a call to serve on the board of a local school that trains nurses. Neither of these privileges was sought for. They happened.

Let Jesus lead.