Spiritual Director · August 1, 2016

Night Shift

The Night Shift is a TV show on NBC about the Emergency Room night shift of a hospital in San Antonio. It first aired on May 27, 2014 and currently runs in a third season. I like the show,  but I also know a little about the reality of the ER, and not every staff problem or medical issue can be solved in 50 minutes!

I greatly respect the night shift associates who work in the St. Vincent hospital system. They are the “unsung” heroes of patient care, who often don’t get recognized or included in day time events. At one hospital as I enter for work they are coming out the door and usually look tired and ready for sleep!

I have worked as the overnight Chaplain a number of times and it is taxing physically. Being up all night (at this age!) takes a toll on the body and throws off the body rhythms of sleep and awake time. Usually there is activity somewhere in the hospital, a patient can’t sleep due to worry and anxiety and they’d like a prayer. Sometimes death is near for a patient and the chaplain brings comfort to the family. And, yes, the ER is alive and active and there is always ministry available there. The nursing staff does not seem quite so “harried” at night, and always seem to enjoy talking, sharing about their lives or seeking prayer.

I remember my first week on night shift at our 86th street hospital in Indianapolis. At night the hallway lights dim and things get much quieter. Most patients sleep if they have their day and night times aligned! But the work of patient care goes on.

I remember an overhead code being called that there was an emergency in the one of the patient rooms. It was amazing to see how quickly so many people came running from all corners of the hospital! There were doctors, nurses, techs, pharmacy carts, and someone from every discipline on the scene or nearby. It was incredible sight to see as help was rushed to the patient.

You and I probably have done a “night shift” or two along the way. There have been times when we can’t sleep, we are awake, we have “busy brain” and anxiety and worry become bedside companions. It’s at those times we give thanks that God is always awake and does not take sleep, does not rest! God sends a care team of angels to hold us, love us, heal us, and guide us.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains, my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth. Behold, God who does not sleep is your keeper, and the Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”—Psalm 121

I once saw a quirky sign that said something like, “If you can’t sleep at night, it’s probably God telling you to listen because God finally has your attention!”

In other words, during the day we are often to rushed to listen, too busy to pray, and to harried in our own lives. As you sleep tonight let God be your keeper, and your guard and then anxiety, worry, etc. can’t get in!

A new National Spiritual Director has been elected and you are, or will be, receiving his devotional. If you would like to continue receiving something from Pr. Doug, please send your email address asap to him! (if you already have, you do not need to repeat). Thank you and congratulations to Pr. Mark Marxhausen, from Minnesota!  

Pastor Doug, Chaplain

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