Pastoral care is not limited to ministers. We do it when we nurture our children, when we listen to our friends, and when we offer kindness to strangers. Most commonly we offer one another pastoral care when we simply stop and really listen. It is holy work we do for and with one another. Ministers provide pastoral care to those in need of someone to talk to, to engage in conversation about issues of ultimacy; among them are birth, death, sex, and fear. It is also a private thing and so I have no pictures engaged in pastoral care.
In my experience as a teacher I provided a safe place for my students and colleagues. This was most often in the rocking chair in my office occupied in the photo by my good friend and colleague, Tim. This rocking chair became the place my students would come to sort out the direction of their lives, sometimes their relationships, and often just to connect. My office was a also a designated safe place for GBLTQ persons. I was deeply honored to hear their stories.
I have spent many volunteer hours at the Iowa Veteran’s home in Marshalltown, Iowa. I offered my services visiting residents on a weekly basis. I am humbled by the stories I was told. My experience in the dementia unit was particularly rewarding.
My chaplaincy training was completed at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, a level one-trauma center, which includes Blank Children’s Hospital and Methodist Hospital both with emergency services. The Center is staffed with an on-call Chaplin 24/7. For eleven weeks I worked an average of 55 hours per week in this position. Much of my time there was as the on-call chaplain responding to all level 1 and 2 traumas and all deaths. My experience there was transformative. Because this work is so private I have no pictures from inside the hospital. I do have this one from a very windy day outside the hospital!