Stone soup 

I got my gallbladder taken out.

Of course, it didn’t go smoothly, but then what ever does? So I find myself convalescing here waiting for the bleeding to slow down enough for me to go home.

The chaplain stopped by tonight to see how I was doing and to fulfill his seminarial duties (probably more the latter), and one of the things he asked me was what I was taking away from this experience. And I’m not sure what I said or if I said anything at all. I’m not really good off the cuff. But I should have told him not to be a surgeon.

Not to say that surgeons aren’t important. There’s nobody more important to the family in the waiting room or the patient on the table. They need someone with an intimate knowledge of every detail of a very specific piece of anatomy, the familiarity with procedure that makes their motions almost automatic, the ability to solve crucial problems under pressure.

But the person in the recovery room waking up alone and confused doesn’t need a surgeon. The old woman wondering what that beeping is and why nobody’s coming doesn’t need a surgeon. The man worried about all that blood coming out from under the dressing doesn’t need a surgeon. A surgeon may be able to fix a broken part of a person, but he can’t heal someone.

Too many pastors, too many Christians want to be surgeons. They worry about nitpicking doctrine about arcane features of theology, about knowing the right soundbites to parrot, about the right and especially the wrong people to associate with, about always having an answer.

But the person standing there covered in shit dripping blood on the floor saying, “I don’t think I got it all, I can’t tell,” doesn’t need a surgeon. They need someone to tell them it’s going to be okay, to wipe off the shit, to clean up the blood, to rebandage their wounds, to help them get back into bed.

So when you meet them, remember: The world doesn’t need more surgeons. It needs more nurses.

I got my gallbladder taken out. And I’m starting to feel better.

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