My Journey to Become a Hospital Chaplain

Chaplain Journey Final - press quality JPG

By William P. Selig

WS CU cropIt was early morning at the hospital when I was called to an elderly patient’s room. The son and his family had driven all night to be there. As I entered the room, it was as if a curtain was being drawn open, a spotlight appeared, the audience hushed, and the performance was about to begin. There were no introductions, not a single word was spoken. Somehow everyone “knew” me. Frankly, they knew me even better than I did – the chaplain is here.

In that spirit-filled atmosphere, my heart “heard” and understood that we were in the midst of a sacred moment. We stood around the bed and held hands. As a prayer came from my lips, in the background I could hear the weeping of the family and relatives. When I stopped speaking and opened my eyes, I felt like a spent rain cloud. Everyone was looking at me. After a moment, the patient whispered, “Thank you, pastor. Your words filled my soul.”

So many times I have seen how the power of prayer brings a sense of connection to God’s love and healing power. When a patient is lying in bed feeling distressed and anxious, prayer has the potential to provide spiritual healing and bring a sense of harmony and wholeness. Make no mistake. Spiritual pain and fear are just as real as physical pain.

My journey to become a chaplain truly has been a blessing. As much as God has used me to touch the lives of so many patients, family and staff, I have to testify that I too have been touched and my own spiritual growth has benefitted. More than once, I’ve wondered who gains more from the encounters: the patient or myself?

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