URJ Biennial Wrap-Up

After Midnight

Through this Brass Crescent Links Roundup post at City of Brass (which gives a kind mention to Velveteen Rabbi; thank you!) I found an amazing new blog: After Midnight in the ICU, which brings the sounds, smells, dreams, and dramas of a hospital intensive care unit to life in evocative language. The author, Hujefa, is a medical doctor who lives in Dallas, and he's also a terrific writer.

Around midnight in the ICU, your head starts to spin. The sound of ventilators pushing stale air in and out of stale bodies begins to soothe you to sleep. There is the incessant rhythmic beeping of the heart monitors. The lights have been dimmed so that the sleepless beings can have a moment to pretend it is indeed night. Occasionally, the footsteps of a nurse or a patient's family echoes across the cold tile. As they pass each other, these steps resonate in questions which show no reply....

(That's from his inaugural post.)

A while back, Preston of Life of a Baby Priest asked if I knew of other CPE bloggers -- bloggers writing about Clinical Pastoral Education -- besides him and myself. I said I did not (though Karen of Kinesis posted some powerful CPE stuff last year.) Though Hujefa is writing about the ICU from a medical perspective, not a chaplaincy one, I can't help thinking that his blog is one that chaplains should read. Certainly it offers me, as a chaplaincy intern, insight into what the intensive care unit feels like to a medical professional, which can only help me as I seek to perform my pastoral care duties.

I came back from Texas with a cold, so I'm trying to take it easy on call tonight. (What that means for me is, when calls come in I will take them, and I'll make my two required sets of rounds, but I won't wander the halls seeking people to chat with or pray with...and I'll hope that this is a night without any 3am codes or pages, so I can get some sleep.) Even so, as I walk the halls of my now-familiar hospital, I have Hujefa's words and images in mind. I look forward to reading what he has to offer, and to letting it permeate my sense of our common goal. As Wendell Berry has often noted, the word healthy shares a root with words like hale, hearty, hallow, holy. May we all bask in the holiness of health, of wholeness, here and everywhere.

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