An Afternoon at the Trauma Center

An Afternoon at the Trauma Center

 My big mouth has always gotten me in trouble. Sunday was no exception. I preached on the subject of “mercy” yesterday. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy was my assigned passage. I defined “mercy” during the course of the sermon. Mercy is compassion or sympathy in action. It is taking positive action when someone is in trouble. It is not mere idle sentiment or vain words. That is good stuff. And so far so good on keeping my foot out of my mouth…
But then I had to go off and describe the bubbles all of us live in every single day. Normal people call it a comfort zone, but I called it a bubble. We carry our bubbles wherever we go. We place bubbles around us, because it indeed is comfortable. In our little bubbles, we can interact with people who look and talk like us. There are no unfamiliar languages or cultures to engage. The people confined to our bubbles live in houses that look like the homes where we place our heads at night. It is all so nice and tidy.

Now this is where I got in trouble yesterday. I challenged all of us to break out of our bubbles. I encouraged all of us to do something this week that was way out of our comfort zones. I said it because am convinced that is where real acts of mercy take place. And I still believe that is true.

My big mouth always gets me in trouble. And I am convinced that God has a sense of humor too. I found myself thrust out of the confines of my bubble before noon today. I didn’t have a choice. Nobody asked me if I felt at ease in going…I just ended up thrown to the curb just outside my comfort zone. That is what I get for challenging everyone to break free of their little bubbles!

A lady at church was air lifted to John Peter Smith Hospital in downtown Ft. Worth Thursday after a serious car crash just South of Granbury. Her elderly mother died as a result of her injuries over the weekend. JPS Hospital is provides top notch trauma care and that is why she taken there by Care-Flite. I was impressed with the hospital staff. It is a good place to be under such circumstances.

But JPS also provides indigent care for the entire city of Fort Worth and a lot of the surrounding communities as well. It is different than any hospital I have ever visited. I am not certain that I can adequately describe what it is like to visit there. Suffice to say it is literally overrun with needy people suffering from every imaginable health issue you can imagine.

I saw a nurse taking the time to carry on a cordial conversation outside the entrance with a man who appeared to be homeless. He was being dismissed from the hospital. I saw all kinds of people who looked very impoverished waiting in various locations of the facility. There were sick elderly people being cared for in the ICU cubicles, but I did not see any sign of family members in that particular waiting room. I could go on. A student majoring in social work could learn more at JPS in one afternoon than they would in a classroom during the entire semester.

I visit people in the hospital nearly every week, but I felt very uncomfortable this afternoon. As a minister and particularly in my law enforcement chaplain role, I deal with all kinds of people in crisis. But I still felt uncomfortable. The amount of suffering in one location just felt overwhelming.

I think my big mouth got me in trouble yesterday. The message focusing on mercy was working on my heart today. I really felt for the people today lining the hallways and sidewalks at John Peter Smith Hospital. There was a voice speaking to me saying: This is where you are supposed to be…. I shivered at the sound of that voice! Take me back to my bubble!

I stopped the parking permit office before I left today to get my “clergy parking permit.” I am all about that clergy parking you know! It cost $3.00 to park today. On the back of the parking permit form, there is a listing of areas where they need ministers and/or members of their churches to volunteer at the hospital. Every single thing listed on that form could be categorized as acts of mercy. I drove away realizing that my little bubble had been torn away. And I could not help but think that my big mouth got me in a lot of trouble.

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