Jason Brauninger, SJ, is a nurse who works in the Trauma Center at a Denver hospital. It’s a place where you hear announcements like “Pediatric Code Blue. Emergency Room. Five minutes by ground” — “probably the worst words that can come across the overhead paging system,” he says.
The Trauma Center tests the Ignatian axiom that God can be found in all things. Brauninger writes that praying the Examen is an especially helpful prayer for him at work:
It is sometimes very difficult for us to find the presence of God in our lives. He will show up in places where we expect him to be, but he will also be “disguised.” For me, I tend to find Christ the easiest in the sick and the injured; in the suffering Christ. It is in the everyday things, like life in the community, completing my studies, or a visit with my family where I can be blind to the presence of Christ.
Ahhh yes (and thanks for the links!). I remember my very first case which really wasn’t my case at all, or so I told myself when I tried to avoid this dying lady for fear I would get into trouble. I was a student you see and our teacher was Dragon Lady itself straight from the planet Hades. So I walked out of her room. Something propelled me stiff legged and in terror straight back to her bedside. Something made me stand there and watch her as she Cheynne-Stoked a bit (the up and down breathing of a respiratory system without the brain telling it what to do) and then opened her eyes. She came out of her latter stage dementia long enough to look straight at me with terrified eyes. I had read her log at the nurse’s station so I knew that t his was a good woman but not a religious one. I opened my mouth and said, “It’s okay,Mrs. W. God is looking after you.” She sighed a deep relieved sigh and closed her eyes. I had exactly enough time to run for the RN who pronounced death two minutes later.
God uses who he has to. Even a scared stiff student.
Yes I worked palliative care as a care aide (nursing asst in the US) and yes one patient did emit nose cringing and stomach wrenching into the room but he was very ill. Over that there was palpable a great hovering just beyond my ability to see. God waiting for his old baby to come home. I could almost almost see the air part to make room for it all but as I say it was beyond my comprehension.
Linda, I would say to people, “do NOT call me if you’re pregnant and want a birth coach. Call me if you’re terminal!” I was grateful to those who took me up on that. BTW, on Twitter there’s a weekly chat of folks who work in palliative medicine and hospice. I attend when I can. Hashtag: #HPM. Fantastic community.
I was involved with hospice for years and when people would start with the nose-wrinkling and cringing, I’d tell them God was stunningly present in those situations — and I wanted to be where God was.