Thrive by IU Health

June 29, 2021

Hospital chaplain: ‘Drums are my happy place. They are my sanity saver’

IU Health Methodist Hospital

Hospital chaplain: ‘Drums are my happy place. They are my sanity saver’

On any given day IU Health Methodist Hospital chaplain Paul Goodenough can be at the bedside of a dying patient. In the past year, he’s comforted countless patients and family members during a pandemic. How does he cope? He turns to music.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

Everything was heightened. It was more intense. We were experiencing a pandemic.

“The stress of life was all encompassing. Every sniffle was fraught with thoughts of ‘do I have COVID,’ ‘and ‘am I going to infect a patient,’ ‘am I going to infect my kids,’” said Paul Goodenough. As a palliative care chaplain with IU Health Methodist Hospital he experienced some of the toughest months coming to the aid of patients and hospital caregivers.

“In the absence of having church gatherings, I learned that God is everywhere. It reinforced for me that church is a community of relationships – not just four walls,” said Goodpasture.

To help relieve that stress, Goodenough has turned to music. This month, his Indy Rock Band, “Berry” will release the album, “Vault of Light” recorded in an old bank vault in Nashville, Tenn. The four-member group has played together on and off for the past 18 years. This will be their fourth full-length record released by Joyful Noise Recordings, Gray Area Cassette Series.

Goodenough’s interest in music began when he was at a church camp in the eighth grade. His parents – Tim and Pam Goodenough – were missionaries serving in South and Central America. It was after services had cleared and the sanctuary was empty that Goodenough approached the drum set.

“I wandered in and I got curious and started playing drums. I didn’t have permission but the drummer came in and was kind and gracious. He taught me my first drum beat,” said Goodenough. The seed had been planted and he went on to play percussion in high school. He got his first drum set as a college student attending Greenville University in Southern Illinois. He pursued an undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies – music, religion, art, English and psychology. Over the years he also took up a little guitar and refers to himself as a “multi-instrumentalist who plays at a sixth grade level.”

Goodenough plays the drums

Drums remained his passion and he toured and recorded with his band until they realized they no longer had the collective energy to pursue music full time.

“It’s hard work so we all started branching out our lives – marriage, family, other careers,” said Goodenough. In 2010 he married his wife Rachel. They have two children, a 3-year-old son, and 2-year-old daughter. He entered the University of Chicago Divinity School and the band was put on the back burner.

As their lives began to land on level ground, the band members started exchanging ideas and eventually began recording again. The name, “Berry” is the result of a mix of ideas pulled from a hat. “It’s a generic word that is loaded with a lot of images – being fruitful and flavorful and having many varieties which is what we’ve done with our music,” said Goodenough. “We try to have a broad range of moods - some slow and sad and minimalist and others pop and upbeat.”

Over the course of the past year, Goodenough said drumming is very much like his job as a chaplain. “Part of the way I view chaplaincy is being a spiritual timekeeper for my patients and the institution – helping people reflect on what time and season of life they’re in by establishing rapport with people. It’s about feeling a bit of normalcy – to have rhythms of human interaction restored,” said Goodenough.

“Being a drummer, I try to keep the beat. I’m not a flashy drummer but occasionally I’ll try to do something to get someone’s attention. That’s the chaplain’s role in the hospital – to be there first of all for listening, and finding that one time to drop in that tone that that will speak through to someone – asking the question at the right time to help them figure out what brings them peace.”

And for Goodenough drumming is what he calls his “happy place. It’s a crucial outlet, a sanity saver.”

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