Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pastoral Care and visitors off the street

During any given week, I am visited often by people who are not part of the congregation with a variety of needs, concerns, and situations. Some are one-time deals, which were especially frequent when we used to give out gas cards. Food from our food pantry has not been our most popular attraction as of late; maybe there are better places to get fed or free food. Sometimes I have repeat visitors, many of whom I’ve gotten to know, and I’ll hire them to clean up the yard (not anyone’s “job”) or other odd jobs when there is a need. But, most often I would get stories, and these stories were shared with the hope of getting a helping hand out. I found that often times in these chance meetings, my day was altered significantly if I took the time to really try to listen to the stories, or I would have to be disingenuous and short with others when I didn’t have the time and/or patience to listen. Several months ago, I thought to have those who were serious about seeking me out, seeking spiritual guidance, and maybe a helping hand, to make an appointment when it was convenient for both of us, and come at that time. Our agenda would be to talk about whatever he or she wanted to talk about. A counseling session lite. I would offer to do this for free, or to even pay the person seeking the services out of my pastoral discretion fund (what is this money for?). Well, finally I had my first taker. CC came on a Thursday afternoon just as I was leaving the church to get somewhere. I could smell alcohol on his breath, he was unkempt…looked rough. Said he wanted to talk. So, we made an appointment, one week from that day was okay with both of us. I wrote it down on a piece of paper for him. Thursday May 14, 2009, at 3 pm. At 3:05, I figured he wasn’t coming…then a few minutes later he shows up at the door. His hair was a little crazy, and he still smelled like alcohol, but he was wearing a sports coat and some loafers, as if he was trying to dress up a bit for our time together. He shared about his life, and how it had gone down the tubes, but he wanted to try to get it back together again. Our time was up at 4; at the end we read scripture and prayed together. He seemed very appreciative; said he wanted to come back. So we made another appointment. I figure I can do this until I feel we’re not going anywhere, the pastoral discretion fund runs out, or he stops coming. And who knows, maybe God will work a miracle through these kinds of encounters.

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