Sunday, February 1, 2009
I'm jazzed . . . and humbled, all at the same time. Today our church welcomed 11 new lay ministers onboard, graduates of The Community of Hope Training for Lay Chaplains. And one of these fledgling ministers is (imagine a seismic rush of goosebumps) me! I graduated--even after that klutzy first attempt at meditation that . . . um, left me trapped in my wristwatch. You probably remember that one--or are trying to forget. Good thing that a huge cornerstone of this particular spiritual study is humility.
In all seriousness, the Community of Hope training was wonderful. A 12 week study based on Benedictine Spirituality, that teaches the students to provide "a non-threatening, listening and compassionate presence to those in need" or--as Benedict so beautifully put it--"to listen with the ear of your heart." For me, a compulsive "fixer" and longtime ER nurse, being still and "simply" listening, wasn't so simple. And will require ongoing practice . . . which, of course, is the point. So, in what capacity do Community of Hope lay ministers perform this service? Anywhere there are people in need . . . which is everywhere. Within a congregation, in community outreaches including hospitals, hospice, nursing homes, grade schools, food banks, homeless shelters, military hospitals. Or . . . in a grocery store line, at a bus stop, at home. Anywhere the hospitality of a caring, listening presence . . . would be a blessing. Where human connection and understanding provides hope.
No agenda, no judgment, no "fix." Just the comfort that says, "I'm here. I care."
In this busy, bustling, impersonal world of sound bytes, text messages, telemarketers, traffic jams, automated phone menus . . . being heard--really listened to--is a luxury. This is what we'll offer to the best of our abilities. And with God's help.
I'm planning to use my training by wading back into the chaos of ER. Where, instead of manning a defibrillator, brandishing needles, giving orders over the paramedic radio, I'll be offering support for patients, family, and medical staff, too. Because I've "been there and done that"--and I know the painful toll (on all sides) that crisis situations can exact. If I can help buffer that, even, a little . . . how cool is that?
As long I don't get trapped in my wristwatch.
Here's . . . hoping!