Thursday, September 21, 2006

Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord

Tonight I was going to post Nanny Nanny Poo Poo II because with Session meeting over I am now officially on vacation. YES!!!

And I will get to that post, but I wanted to take some space to reflect on what happened earlier today. I received a phone call earlier this afternoon from the parishioner of a friend of mine in a town about 45 minutes away. The parishioner's daughter lives near me and is dying of cancer. Today she was given weeks to live, could I please come visit.

Many of you who read these posts are clergy so I know you will understand and not judge that although in voice I agreed, my selfish zone was more focused on one final meeting, packing, other minor tasks and getting out of town.

As all of you would do too, I sucked it up and I headed over. I was nervous because when the best club in your bag is your 'sense of humor driver' it is intimidating to think that your visit to a dying stranger may leave you relying on your less trusty 'theological sand wedge' or 'small talk putter'. I reminded myself to be myself and to rely on a ministry of presence.

Once there tension lifted almost as soon as I walked in the room and we talked, we laughed, we cried, we prayed... I cussed. Yup, you read that right. Briefly told, she broke down and wondered what she had done wrong to deserve this and I told her that was bullshit (I of course told her WHY that is bs, but you get the point).

It turns out her step-father was a preacher in a more conservative, evangelical denomination than mine that puts its focus a bit more on works and a little less on grace. She has been to funerals where the deceased were never mentioned, but the altar call was. She doesn't want that. She has been to funerals where the preacher said, "I never met insertname, but..." She doesn't want that.

I told her that I would say, "Tori and I go way back..."

After I left her side her mother followed me out and told me that she would send payment to the church for my time. This caught me by surprise and I of course refused. She insisted and I tried to find the balance between not wanting her to feel as if she had insulted me and not wanting her to pay me money for something I am Called to do.

Finally I told her that if she felt it were necessary she should donate it to her church but "please know that being invited to stand with a family while they are engaged in the biggest battle of their lives and in their time of greatest grief and sorrow is an honor and a privilege."

I meant it. And I wondered as I drove away, how often - even in ministry - do we not only get to have these moments of privilege but do we also get the opportunity to redeem an entire profession... and maybe even the way one dying woman can now look at the One who created her and has loved her and will welcome her.

19 comments:

see-through faith said...

oh this made me cry. You are gracious and loving and full of compassion. And so dammed lovely ...because you are so real!

have a great holiday!

Listing Straight said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Good job. You did a good job.
******
Now go on vacation.

ppolarbear said...

You're the best and all the best people know it.

net said...

No rhinestones in your heavenly crown, ws! You ROCK!

Quotidian Grace said...

Oh, my. Well done, indeed. What a blessing you are to this family.

Songbird said...

I love you, will smama. Thanks for being there when Tori needed not just anyone, but you.

cheesehead said...

Can't type...screen blurry...

I heart you, will smama

reverendmother said...

I hope you won't see this until you get back, but... I needed to read this today. Thanks.

Teri said...

i wish someone like you had been around for my mom--she could have used some humor and maybe some cussing, and lots of love.

i hope you had a great vacation--you deserve it. :-)

mz said...

I <3 WS.

revabi said...

WS,
You are a great mommy, friend and Pastor.

And it is often in the moments we don't have time and suck it up that we have the moments you had.
I am so glad you went. I am so sad she thought she had to pay something.

RuthRE said...

Wow.

Leslee said...

He did good through you on that day!

Marie said...

Wow. I'm so glad you shared this. You're just amazing. I loved the whole post, from the bit where you worry about how you're not going to be okay to the end where you were perfect, where you were God for those people. Bless you. Have a wonderful vacation.

juniper68 said...

tears in my eyes, too. thanks....

Pink Shoes said...

Saved this until I could actually read it.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Well done. God bless you, and this family through you.

Kathryn said...

((will smama))
Blessings on you