I HEARD a lovely story about Chaplaincy the other day. I was talking to a lady who asked me if I knew a particular chaplain in a different hospital.

She told me that, a few years ago, her husband was in hospital with a serious illness. “I spent hours and hours in that hospital and out of hours there was nowhere even to get a cup of coffee,” she said and described what it was like in the middle of the night or early morning with exhaustion overwhelming her.

On one occasion she found herself in the chapel at the hospital and bumped into the Chaplain.

Neither the lady nor her husband were religious and a visit from the chaplaincy would have freaked her husband out.

“But the chaplain recognised my exhaustion and she told me that the chapel was open 24 hours a day; a warm space for me to rest.

“But when I bumped into her the next day she had done something even better. She had put a kettle and some coffee and milk behind a curtain in the prayer room for me so that I could get some refreshments in the middle of the night. I will never forget that kindness.”

I’ve said before that chaplaincy is always about being there and responding to the need.

Doubtless this chaplain didn’t do a risk assessment on whether this lady could use a kettle! She did, however, provide one small, kind link in a chain which helped this lady in her very difficult circumstances.

In fact, the word “chaplain” derives from “little cloak” after the story of the saint who tore his cloak in two to pass on to a beggar in a fierce winter.

It seems to me that everyone, religious or not, can be a chaplain to someone in need. All it takes is a willingness to be available; an attitude of kindness; and a creative imagination.

Jesus said that anyone giving a cup of water to others was doing it for God.

So I suppose the same goes for a kettle or anything else, for that matter.

The smallest things make a big difference, especially in these darkest of times.

Happy New Year to you all.