My mentor once said people don’t really care what you know as much as they want to know that you care. I have had the opportunity to hear congregants’ stories of the pain of the divorce they are going through, or the depression that resulted from a miscarriage, or the alienation from their faith community because they came out as LGBTQ+. All I can offer them is a listening ear, even when words escape me. Even if I can’t be fully empathetic, at least I can journey with them during some of the most challenging moments of their lives.
But nothing is more precious than holding someone’s hand half an hour before they move from this life to the next, which I’ve had the privilege to do. There is a sweetness at that moment when you realize it’s all about presence and giving someone permission to let go. Pastoral care isn’t even a chore or a task I could check off. It is the epitome of what it means to be in relationship with one another and to build trust in sacred space. It is the moment that transcends our beliefs or disagreements, but gets down to the core of what it means to be divine beings having a human experience.