From the Rev: Just Fools
It’s probably a feeling and phrase that I have felt an innumerable amount of times as I visited the stadium or training grounds. It’s like a bad voice in my head that won’t go away. It feels condemning at times.
“You’re a fool.”
If you are reading this and have worked in any capacity as a chaplain before (whether professional sports, healthcare, or military) there are times when you cannot help but feel overwhelmed. The people, institutions, and organizations where a chaplain ministers can unknowingly and unwittingly contribute to the frustrating sense that is all to common to a chaplains experience.
During my years as a hospice chaplain, it was easy to feel the fool while in the midst of interdisciplinary team meetings as doctors and clinicians spouted out acronyms and alphabet soups and medicinal side effects like living medical dictionaries. The smart chaplains learned what the major medications were called and what impacts they had on patients – or they learned to feign indifference. But, it was overwhelming, nonetheless, as there seemed to be an expectation that chaplains should understand medicine like doctors understand spirituality – not that doctors necessarily do, but some believe spirituality isn’t as hard to grasp or understand.
There is little difference for the professional sports chaplain – although ‘professional’ may be misleading as it tends to condition the type of sport, and not the type of chaplain. For the sports chaplain there is a lot of waiting – waiting for a training session to be finish, waiting for a player to complete a treatment, waiting for a game or match to begin, waiting for a season to start anew, and more. It’s during these times when a chaplain, if not extremely careful and intentional, can feel the fool.
“What am I doing here?” “This is such a waste of time.” “Am I making a difference at all?” “Does anybody, except me, care?”
The difficult truth maybe is in the answer to that last question – “No, nobody cares … save One.”
But that is why we are here – we are here because God cares. And He calls chaplains (really all of us) to be fools for it; to be fools that care about, fools that love, fools that serve others. Happy April Fool’s Day.
Rev. Brad Kenney