Anabaptist History Today

Collected Item: “Merry Covid Christmas, God! A Chaplain's Lament”

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Merry Covid Christmas, God! A Chaplain's Lament

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A Lament

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I am a hospital staff chaplain. Last Monday (12/7) we had a very difficult day when four patients on the ICU with Covid-19 were removed from their ventilators and died minutes later. Just a couple family members of each patient were allowed to come see their loved one (per hospital protocol) before they were removed from the vents. This was the worse day yet for our nurses and other colleagues on the ICU since the pandemic started. This lament was the result of one: an assignment for a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education that I am currently taking in which I read it to the class on Thursday and they loved it. And two: the deaths on the ICU that Monday and the experience I had in a local store the next. And I suppose a response so far to the pandemic through my eyes as a hospital chaplain who is trying to serve. P.S. I know this may be too harsh for your needs and I understand that. But honestly, it was how I was feeling at the time and it came to me rather easily. Laments are meant to be emotional and raw! So here it is. Unfortunately when I copied and pasted it, the centering format did not hold so I had to manually center everything as best I could.

Merry Covid Christmas, God!
A Chaplain’s Lament
By Lee Pfahler

Oh, my God! (Sigh)
Another grieving family!
Another expected death!
Are You trying to reach a quota this year?
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

Wasn’t the Spanish Flu enough?
Millions and millions killed!
And now four dead on one day!
And to boot, on a Monday?
(Sorry that rhymes. I promise I won’t do it again. But it’s the Truth!)
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

And that European plague centuries ago!
The so-called Black Death?
Tens of millions killed!
(You know that part of the world from where the “discoverer of America” came.
There you go, Plague 101!)
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

Well, then there’s Moses!
Frogs, Flies, and Boils, oh my!
At least that showed some imagination.
Fortunately, the world is not flooding again…maybe…yet…
(What a terrible children’s story that makes!
Who started that practice? Noah to his grandchildren?)
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

And don’t get me started on Job! No, no!
I took a seminary class on him. And the Psalms too!
(By the way, thanks to Professors S.M. and S.S. I haven’t been the same since.
And I do mean thanks! Your classes rocked my world in
An upside-down kingdom sort of way.)
Job? The Psalms? God, what were You thinking?
I accuse you of murder in the first degree of my rigid images of You!
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

And…and then this happens the next day!
See, there was this jerk, oops, sorry, older man who walked into a store without a mask.
He even refused when offered one by the young employee at the entrance;
With a big smile on his face! Seriously?
Oh, the thoughts that went through my head remembering just a day prior on the ICU.
At least two of those patients were younger than him!
(Sigh) Fortunately, I lost my voice.
Silence sheared my tongue.
Yet I screamed through my ears!
Carols answered back.
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!
So now what am I supposed to do?
Do I go find that man and challenge him?
Tell him he is arrogant and endangering people’s lives with his cavalier attitude?
Please help me find my voice!
The voice, like so many, that could tell people off and
Where to go because they don’t follow the simple rules.
That would be so easy!
Merry Covid Christmas, God!

But that would be too easy, wouldn’t it?
It’s not the path I have walked
Nor the voice I have developed.
You have helped to see to that, haven’t You?
So instead, I’m to give a cup of cold water,
Be present and listen
To the anguish and questions
Of the weary, the dying and the bereaved.
Covid be damned!
This is what I’m supposed to do!
Merry Christmas God.

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