I, like many other clergy, did a semester of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). It is a requirement for ordination. A few summers ago I completed mine at the University of Virginia. There, like in many hospitals, is a small chapel. I spent a lot of time in that chapel. Praying for certain patients that I had met; sitting in the silence if only for a few seconds; praying with loved ones who were struggling with what was happening.
I was assigned a cardiovascular unit, many of whose patients were critical. At one point over the summer the hospital was so busy that there some patients sent to the unit to die. I sat with loved ones who had to make tough decisions. I listened to patients question God’s plan for their lives. I held the tiny little hands of newborns as I prayed for with their families before that newborn went into surgery.
In the midst of a busy hospital, the chapel was a place of serenity.
In last week’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy (11.11), the chapel at Grey-Sloan Memorial is the main character. Amelia is the first character who goes to the chapel. She has battled with drug addictions. Her friends April and Jackson had received unwanted dignasos for the unborn baby. Amelia, knowing that there is nothing that she can do, goes to the chapel, says a prayer and lights a candle.
When others in the hospital ponder out loud about April and Jackson’s situation, Amelia encourages them to go to the chapel and pray to whoever they pray to. Slowly, different characters came one-by-one into the chapel to light a candle and say a prayer. Including Jackson himself, who perhaps offered the most heart-warming prayer of all.
Jackson’s prayer is a plea to a higher being – any higher being – that may be listening. Jackson and April differ when it comes to matters of religion. April grew up in a more conservative, evangelical family. While Jackson provides no evidence of a religious background at all. Jackson’s prayer is not for himself or for the baby. His prayer is for April, his wife. While April’s faith has always proven strong, in this situation it is weakening. April needs a sign. This is what Jackson prays for.
Amelia, who was the one who suggested to the others that they make a visit to the chapel, is mentoring Stephanie the intern through a complicated tumor. Amelia’s words to Stephanie ring true to all who visit the chapel: “You must be willing to look for light in the darkest places.”
The episode is filled with dark moments, as is life, in need of light. The woman who unexpectedly loses her husband. The parents having to make difficult decisions for their unborn baby. Though we live in moments of darkness, we seek the Light. We must be willing to look for the Light.
At the end of the episode Amelia returns to the chapel, and finds that all the candles have been lit. Light breaks forth.