Wednesday, April 16, 2008

STAT

You've heard the term, if you watch Grey's Anatomy or House or ER. The doctor shouts out, to anyone in the vicinity, "I need a crash cart STAT!!!" It's a term that conjures up excitement and tension, that makes your pulse race, every sense hanging on what will happen next.

It's a term that produces nothing but resentment in me. I work in the health care industry, as a hospice chaplain, and about once a week I get a page saying "Call the office STAT!" or "The family is requesting a chaplain visit STAT!" As an introvert, practically nothing in my life happens at STAT pace. I'm living in my own interior world, developing ideas, working out solutions, asking more questions, fantasizing about moving to a chateau in Cote d'Or and working at the pace that Pinot Noir grapes grow.

STAT doesn't resonate with the nature of my calling. I am the most impractical member of my team. The nurses move at lightning pace when called on in an emergency. They gallop. I mosey. Occasionally, I will canter if need be. But the nature of my job is ambiguous and slow. I give space for people to open up the deepest caverns of their souls, which takes time and trust. And afterwards, I reflect and internalize. People assume that if I'm not sitting in a room with a patient or driving to my next visit then I must be slacking off. They think "Here's a guy who is just waiting for a STAT page, because he is bored and has nothing to do."

I'm so grateful that God doesn't move at STAT pace. God took over 40 years to get his people to the promised land. He waited a thousand years to send the Messiah. It is 2000 years and counting and Jesus still has not returned to usher in final redemption. While STAT is at times in this life is the appropriate move, it often misses the process. STAT moves from one action to another without reflection, without learning from what has come before. STAT lets outside forces control it, bouncing around like a pinball. STAT is built on impatience.

The more STAT pages I get, the more I feel out of touch with myself, with God, with my vocation as a pastor.