She had asked for a chaplain to stop by her room. “To pray with her,” the request said.
I went. I’m good with being invited to talk to God with people. (I’m good with being asked not to pray, too. Which happened in a later visit that day.)
We talked, the patient and I. She had some physical needs. “I’m not asking to take my chronic illness way,” she said. “I’m not asking for vision in the eye that I lost. I just want to get well enough to go home this week.” We talked about her illness, about her faith, about her grief during the last year.
And then she teared up. “But I think about people who are so much worse off and I feel bad about asking for health.”
“You’re a daughter of the King,” I said. “It’s okay to ask.” I thought, though didn’t say, that God has the capacity to care others and her.
“Let’s talk to God,” I said. I took her hand and I talked to God. I asked for peace. I asked for courage. I asked for her GI track to work. I asked God to let her know that He was present in a way that she would know for sure. I finished.
There was a nurse in her room, hooking up an IV. Which was good. Because just as I finished, two other nurses came into the room with purpose. “How are you feeling?” the one said. “Doing okay?”
The nurse who was in the room looked at them and said, “She was crying a little while he was praying.” They look, and then smiled and left.
It turns out that tears can show up on the heart monitors for patients in the heart institute.
“I wondered a little if God was listening,” the patient said.
“He is,” I said. I should have said, “Just like the people monitoring your heart are listening. And your tears register on His monitor, too.”