Monday, September 7, 2009

pastoral identity

One of my goals this quarter is to work on the appropriate claiming of my pastoral authority here in the hospital. There are a lot of people here, with a lot of opinions, expectations and agendas.  I need to hold to that intricate balance of toughness and tenderness that will be the most healthy for all.

Two experiences this week remind me that only I can craft the pastoral identity I want to have.

I stopped at the nurses desk.  "Hi!  I'm Erin, the chaplain.  Do you have anyone you especially want me to see today before I start with the new admits?"  She looked blank.  Then had an idea. "Room 925!  She is very religious."  I asked if she had any special needs.  "No she is fine, but she prays constantly - when she goes to bed, when she gets up, when she eats.  She would be happy to see you."   Great.  So the crazy praying lady is the only one on this floor in the hospital that would appreciate a chaplain's visit?

Nathan took me through the Behavioral Health wing.  Last quarter this was his rotation.  Now it is mine.  We met an elderly gentleman who is new.  He was very friendly and chattery.  He asked Nathan "Is this your wife?"  "No", we told him,  "we are both chaplains here."  Even though I spoke loudly and clearly, he kept asking "huh?" and then looked at Nathan for conversation.  As we wrapped things up he volunteered to pray.  After a unique rendition of Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, he closed with "and be with the nice chaplain and his little lady.  Arrgh!

So yes.  I will keep forming and growing and protecting and shaping my pastoral identity.  And wincing and laughing and sharing....

Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true." John 7:28 and 29 NIV

1 comment:

  1. Identity and authority all wrapped up so nicely in John 7. Great choice, awesome chaplain