I can’t remember what actually took place that night, except it was a long, hard night at the children’s hospital, and I was probably looking a little worse for wear. I ran into one of my soon to be favorite coworkers from EVS who asked me if I was hanging in there. All I could think to say was, “Holy Spirit ain’t let me down yet!” This has become a sort of call and response liturgy between the two of us when we pass in the halls of the basement of the hospital. “Holy Spirit ain’t let you down yet?” “No sir!” “Amen!”
In the beginning of my time at the hospital that thought was both prayer and reassurance. Both asking and reassuring. This was until we had a discussion in my CPE group about praying for the presence Holy Spirit. My supervisor posed the thought by asking if we thought the Holy Spirit was present in the hospital, to which we said yes. She then suggested maybe instead of asking that the Holy Spirit come, that we might pray in gratitude for the presence of the Holy Spirit already present and at work in the space, so that we might enter less in fear and more in the reassurance of the presence of God. I thought the idea was interesting but kinda pushed it to the back on my mind until one night on call.
I had been paged to the Pediatric ICU waiting room to be with a mother who was fearful for the life of her child. She was crying and calling out to God loudly, and my presence did nothing to calm this. I was at peace with that, as I do not believe that the job of a chaplain is to quiet peoples’ grief, but apparently the crying led other staff persons to believe I was not there. I received a call on my Ascom phone asking if I would go to the PICU waiting room to be with a crying mom. I informed them that I was already there. By the third call/person stopping in I was beginning to realize that they didn’t believe I was there because they thought I would quiet the mom down, and one person couldn’t see me because I was surrounded by the family. I finally had to tell someone, “I am not leaving, so you don’t need to keep paging me here, but you may not see me, and this mom may not stop crying even though I’m here.”
And that’s when I realized that I sometimes treat the Holy Spirit the same way. I keep calling and paging the Holy Spirit to a place where the Spirt already is. Sometimes because I cannot feel it or see it and sometimes because I believe that the situation would go differently if the Holy Spirit were really present.
The Holy Spirit still hasn’t let me down, but now I take turns between asking and thanking, between inviting and communing, and I reminded from that night that even though I may not hear or see the work of the Spirit, and it may not turn out as I think it should that the Holy Spirit is still at work in my life and in the lives of those around me, for which I am exceedingly grateful.