I visited the hospital for the first time today . . . as a minister. And it's quite a humbling experience. At least it was for me, a newbie to the whole chaplin experience, who was welcomed with open arms by families who didn't even know me. You have to understand being the only African-American at Harvest and in this congregation, I can't help but wonder what the socialization has been of those I now worship with. If race had been an issue, it wasn't in that moment, where all that seemed to matter was that their minister was there. The one who could get a "line" through to God and usher their loved one through a safe surgery. The one could share words of encouragement and help them shoulder their fears and handle their tears.
And it seemed to mean more that the minister-in-training had come along.
So, I should not have been surprised when the families bypassed my handshake and went straight for the bear hug and thanked me profusely for my presence.
Sometimes, that's all one needs -- for someone to be there. And I'm glad I could oblige.