Wednesday, November 08, 2006

pastoral care from the other side of the bed

Have been absent from the blogosphere due to a blessed wedding - our gorgeous daughter was married to the world's second nicest guy (in line right after her handsome and irresistable father.) What a wonderful, glorious day - worth every effort and every penny expended.

Have been absent also due to the great sadness of my father's very slow and labored passing. He made it to the wedding through an effort of sheer will, but it took pretty much everything he had. His breath is barely there now, and we are in prayer that God will carry him home soon and very soon.

How odd it has been to experience pastoral care from the other side of the bed. I've been doing this for a lot of years now - I had forgotten what it was to receive care rather than give it. Staunch Reformed theologian that I am, lifelong Presbyterian, child of two Presbyterian elders, and Scots to boot, my father is dying in a wonderful, lovely Catholic-to-the-core hospital, tended by a Catholic hospice organization and a core of Catholic doctors. He has been anointed, incensed (the smelly kind, not the emotional sort), blessed and re-blessed, and prayed for well and thoroughly. It's been good overall - wonderful caring people who are sincere and humble in their prayer ministry to my father.

I just wish the nuns wouldn't talk so much. I appreciate now more than ever the wisdom of all those pastoral care books that said "less is definitely more" when standing by the bed of a dying person. To listen to his breath coming more slowly all the time is to experience the blessing of God's own breath, the Holy Spirit present and softly weaving my father into the fabric of the church triumphant. To sit and be anointed by the Spirit of peace and comfort in that room in the silence is enough, at least for me now in this time and place.

To all those who will sit this day, this week, this year, with a family like mine, I give my heartfelt thanks and blessing and one tiny whisper of a thought - "Shhhh....."


Blogger 1-4 Grace said...

Please know of thoughts and prayers for you and your family.
thank you for the advice also. I am currently giving care to two mmebers of our church family who are dying, and another expected soon. I will remember to remian quite as a minisry to the family.

9:33 PM  
Blogger mid-life rookie said...

Thanks for sharing your pain and your view from the other side. I am listening and heeding your words as I conduct my CPE on-call shift this very evening. Regarding your words about breathing. I heard recently that God inspires us - breaths life into us. When we expire we breath that life back to God. I had never thought of it that way and it painted a beautiful picture for me.

6:48 PM  

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