Last week, on consecutive days, I received hospital visits from three United Brethren bishops, all of whom have been or currently are my boss. They’ve each racked up hundreds of hospital visits, maybe thousands, during their ministerial careers. I imagine it’s always a bit of a trick to “read” the patient and know how long to stay. These three visits were just right, but all different.
First came Ron Ramsey, last Monday morning. He was my boss (as bishop) 2005-2009, and now works on staff at Emmanuel Community Church. He learned that I was in Lutheran Hospital, so while checking on another parishioner, he stopped in to see me.
I was really pleased to see Ron. I was feeling okay that day, and by then knew they’d be removing my gall bladder that afternoon. I was happy that things were finally moving.
We talked some about my condition and a few other things. Ron affirmed me in various ways, and then prayed for me. I doubt that the visit lasted more than 10 minutes.
Bishop Phil Whipple, my current boss, came the next day around 12:20. The operation was done, and I felt great–so much pain was gone. I was very talkative, and no doubt kept Phil much longer than he planned to stay. In fact, we talked for 45 minutes. In two days, Phil would begin a five-week trip to the West, so this would be my last chance to see him in a long while.
We talked about my condition, but also about various work-related issues (though that was my initiative; he was just coming for a brief hospital visit). He, too, prayed with me before leaving. I really, really enjoyed the visit.
The next day, Wednesday, was not a good day for me. I felt pain much of the day. Amidst that, Bishop C. Ray Miller, the senior bishop when I started at the national office in 1978, appeared at my bedside. It was great to see him, but I think he quickly read my discomfort.
We talked for just a little bit. Twice he said, “I’m not going to make you talk.” He affirmed me and my work, then put his hand on my arm and prayed for me. Then he left.
Sweaty and hurting, I lay back on that hospital bed and thought to myself, “That was the perfect hospital visit.”