Eddie worked at a hospital. He was a chaplain.

He could have worked anywhere, he could have done anything, he could have been anyone that spends working hours caring for the hearts of others, walking with the burdens of others. Pastors, counselors, teachers, bus drivers. The parents who are up in the middle of the night with a child and then walk into work in the morning and care for someone else’s child with graciousness and compassion.

He could have been many people, but Eddie was a chaplain. Eddie was tired with the burdens that he carried both ways, from work to home, from home to work. The lines blurred as he wondered so much about how he was doing in each world that it was clouding the other.

Walking into the hospital for a 1430 to 2300 shift, he looked down. He saw a rock bed. (It’s like a flower bed, but the mulch is actually stones and the flowers are imaginary.) He picked up a rock. Not a particular rock, not a pretty rough, special wrong. He just picked up a rock. He stuck in his pocket, wet with the rain of the afternoon. Then he put it on his desk.

At the end of his shift, he carried the rock out of the building. When he got to the rock bed he dropped it.

The next day when he walked into work, Eddie picked up a rock again. This time, he said a prayer. He said to God, “God, help me remember to care today, to help your conversations.” The rock was on his desk all day long. In the middle of uncertainty, he turned the stone from side to side. At the end of his day he walked out of the building. He thanked God for the day. He dropped the rock.

Days are never perfect for Eddie. Mostly because they are even less perfect for the people he talks with. But he’s doing a better job letting the troubles of the day stay with the day. Because every day’s got enough trouble. And every day benefits from boundaries.

And picking up a rock finally helps him remember to ask for help in carrying it through the day.


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

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