26 Aug

Stories are the things that shape us.  Stories are what we share to tell someone who we are.  A large part of our work as chaplains is holding space for the stories people need to tell in the midst of illness.  Being invited in to listen to the stories of someone’s life is such a holy thing.

This spring, as COVID19 changed so much so quickly for us all, we chaplains had to think about how we did our work—how could we still connect, how could we still be present to folks who were here? 

For me, in my work as a pediatric chaplain, one way was to become a part of the televised story times at Stead Family Children’s Hospital.  So, for several months, it has been a delight to spend 30 minutes every Friday morning reading picture books from the children’s library.

Why does this end up being spiritual work?  Because, the people who read stories for our patients and families, whether they are chaplains or not, are sharing something about meaning and value.  Your children, their parents and other family members matter, and if we could not visit in person, we could find a way to reach out in another way.  We want to provide some safe place during a scary time. 

When we share stories, we connect with people’s own stories and extend connections through imagination.  In the pictures, in the silly and beautiful and comforting words that are read and heard, we are affirming who these children are, the suffering that might be happening, that there can be hope amid so much unknown.

What are your favorite children’s stories?  When you think of them, who do you remember reading to you, and who did you read to?  When you think of them, do you get a flood of feeling and memory?  I can see a picture from Jack Ezra Keat’s The Snowy Day and be so quickly transported to my own childhood. 

It’s been a gift to be a part of this story time; we hope it has been a gift for the kiddos and parents up on the floors.  I think we never get too old for picture books, and we never get too old for the stories of one another’s lives.

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