She squinted her eyes and scrunched her nose and then sat in what felt, to me, like eternal silence. I could tell that she couldn’t hear me. So I dialed up my speaking volume and said with great enunciation, “So how are you feeling today, Miss Peggy?” “Not so good, not so good,” she hollered back at me. But she said it with a smile, so I knew that the situation wasn’t too dire at the moment. “What’s wrong? What doesn’t feel good?” I bellowed, using what little bit I know from my voice teacher husband about using my diaphragm muscles to get the sound out. “Oh, nothing much,” she admitted. “Just feeling lazy today.” “Lazy is okay!” I reassured her. Then, I pointed to the vase of brilliantly colored flowers the church had sent for her. They were velvety red roses with indigo blue, bell-shaped blossoms along slender stalks. I knew that this could at least be a talking point with Miss Peggy. “Beautiful, beautiful,” she responded. And then she began to leaf through the worship bulletin I had brought her from the previous Sunday. She mumbled, “I just love getting these. . . .”
And this is how it goes. This is what we do. This is, in fact, part of what I do in pastoral care. Pastoral care feels like one of the oddest “jobs.” I’m learning more and more each day how to do it–through experiences that are simply awkward as h*#!, through the gentle guidance of pastors much wiser than I, and through trying and failing and trying again. I’m learning that it truly is the little things that matter, that show love and care. Birthdays, anniversaries, surgeries, graduations, defeats, triumphs, fears, joys. It’s life. And it’s glimpses of God’s love and grace that we find–or that find us–in this life.
I’m delving into this “job” today. How are things with your calling?