A Chaplain’s Perspective Essay VI: Reflecting Beside Still Waters

Reflecting Beside Still Waters

By recognizing death, we are able to stand in truth. Standing in truth we can celebrate life and recognize the beauty of sacrificial love.

On October 5, 2020 the United States passed 210,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus. This was not unexpected as the daily death toll continued to rise and as human beings, we could only resolve ourselves to grieve and continue to persevere.

It has been a difficult year, and I decided to pause and reflect on the significance of the moment and the sacrifices willingly made for the benefit of others.

Throughout the pandemic, I have turned to the website MEDPAGETODAY: Honoring U.S. Healthcare Workers Who Died from the Coronavirus. The webpage is updated as needed. When I go to the site, I reflect upon the acts of courage, professionalism and kindness given by healthcare workers throughout the world and in the United States.

On this early fall day, I took the time to note the various healthcare fields where a healthcare worker has died. My first reaction was the stunning truth that the pandemic knows no boundaries. The healthcare fields impacted included nurses, doctors, nurse practitioners, mental health technicians, MRI technicians, nursing assistants, anesthesiologists, general surgeons, mammogram technologists, speech pathologists, physicians’  assistants, nursing home aides, pediatric intensive care nurses, radiological technicians, clinical interpreters, phlebotomists, EKG technologists, OB/GYN physicians, radiologists and respiratory therapists.

According to the CDC, around 740 healthcare workers have died from coronavirus. Each individual willingly chose to go to work in an effort to provide care and comfort to others in their time of need. None of these individuals planned on contracting the disease. At the same time, everyone knew they were putting themselves at risk. And they chose day after day to go to work and serve others anyway. This is a message of Sacrificial Love!

In the flurry of this chaotic and scary year, have we taken time to hear their witness of sacrificial love?

It’s there if we take the time to listen. It’s there to bring hope in times of grief and pain. It’s there to remind us that life can be beautiful!

A second thought occurred when I noticed the number of healthcare professionals not included by MEDPAGETODAY. It would be almost impossible to realize and recognize the various services performed by healthcare workers and individual citizens daily. At the same time, my mind wandered to paramedics, emergency medical providers, ambulance drivers, police officers, emergency medical technicians, med flight staff, unit coordinators, registration workers, hospital maintenance workers, house cleaning staff, supply and distribution personnel, in hospital transportation employees, hospital security workers, patient care assistants, administrative leadership, food services staff, social workers, chaplains and others I am sure I have forgotten. It is an incredible team of professionals, each day doing their part and each knowingly and willingly putting themselves at risk day after day.

When days get heavy and I get down, I am blessed to be inspired by the gift of sacrificial love. My wife is a nurse and my oldest son is a paramedic. I get to come to work and be surrounded by the most amazing friends and colleagues living out sacrificial love. While the pandemic has brought out much grief, anger and despair, at the same time, there are times when it has also revealed what is best in each other, displayed in our love of neighbor.

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