Those of us who are employed by hospitals to be chaplains are called to serve everyone in our facilities. We do our best to value and response and serve everyone. I am, however, a chaplain who is a Christian. As a result, my perspectives are shaped by my familiarity and relationship with the Trinity and with the Bible. I do my best to respond out of those relationships rather than inflicting them on others.

I’m grateful to my family, colleagues, parishioners, friends, and patients who, for decades, have been helping me find language to describe some of the most difficult moments in our lives. Sometimes the language has emerged as we talked about their questions. Sometimes the language and silence have emerged as we sat together in death; as we walked through birth; as we struggled with waiting; as we have watched the dying live for years.

I’m particularly grateful to Jim Johnson and Ray Harrison who served as visitation pastors long after they retired from being preaching pastors. Their compassion taught me that one-on-one ministry in times of grief and joy can have as much impact as giving a sermon. And Cori, Denise, Kent, Susie, Lydia, Anna, Tim, Barry, Patrick, Teresa, Will, Diana, Dianna, Fred, Dan, Wayne, Father James, and Father Ed are among my co-workers who have formed my practice. There are many others.

I am grateful to Nancy, my wife, who has walked with me through this journey. She is the one with the heart for people in pain. She is the one who can simply sit next to someone that others are ignoring and share a depth beyond words. She is the only one who understands our daughter’s life and death and life more deeply than I do.

I am a chaplain at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Some of the stories come from my work there as a chaplain. However, my comments do not reflect the official positions of my employer. In all cases, names and details of stories have been changed. In some cases, stories have been created from several different interactions with several different people.

I am ordained by the Missionary Church. However, my comments may not reflect official positions of my denomination.

In truth, some of my comments may not reflect the official positions of my heart. I’m human after all.


Before You Walk In Copyright © 2021 by Jon Charles Swanson. All Rights Reserved.

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