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On-call chaplain meets A Christmas Carol

In my chaplain internship at Rush University Medical Center, we have a 24-hour on-call shift every 7 to 10 days. The other chaplains get off their pagers at 5 p.m. and transfer their pages to the on-call chaplain. Your pager beeps everytime a chaplain has made the transfer. It's a challenging experience to be the sole chaplain on call in such a huge medical center, and one of my colleagues here commented how lonely it feels when the pager keeps dinging at 5 p.m. Friday and you're the one person on-call and you picture everyone else going home to a nice relaxing Friday night.

It feels a little bit like that scene in the classic “A Christmas Carol” when the young Scrooge is alone at boarding school during Christmas vacation and watches, sadly, as everyone else leaves to the loving embrace of families taking them home and he's let in the cold school, snow falling outside.

But then, his sisters appear to take him home, and he is happy once more.

I am not on-call tonight. Instead, a friend from Spokane, Mary Ann, is flying in tonight and we're going to the Notre Dame-Stanford game tomorrow. So I am feeling pretty darn unScrooge like this Friday!

(S-R Archives photo from Disney)

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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