Monday, September 25, 2006

Still learning

It never hurts to remind myself that I'm still learning as a pastor, that I don't know everything. Of course I fight that kicking and screaming, because if I did know everything, well, at least more than I can claim to know, wouldn't things be a lot easier? Granted it's not like I've been at this 40 years, but it seems part of our nature to want to know as much as possible as quickly as possible.

My DH, who is infinitely wiser than yours truly about *most* things, once said to me in one of my fits, "I don't want a chaplain or a pastor who has learned everything." It was a humbling moment for me, as we stood eye-locked before I walked out of our apartment, bound for CPE. I remember not slamming the door as hard as I'd thought I might.

So, this weekend I learned something about ministry. I'm working with a colleague again, except this time I'm the resident "senior." I'm thinking a lot about what it means to truly share ministry and what that actually looks like, how it really happens, and what collegiality can be, should be, could be. The process is exciting and scary and invigorating and has a lot of potential for creativity and growth, for all involved. What I learned didn't come from that exciting new development in my ministry with these dear people, but will certainly have great impact on it and how I see staff ministry.

I left the hospital Saturday afternoon in the driving rain, having sat with a woman whom I have come to care for deeply. She and her family are treasures for many folks and I feel blessed to count myself among them. No one -- none of the experts or doctors or caregivers or the cadre of nurses, herself included -- knows what's wrong, only that there are many things, all happening together. I don't know if she is dying, or not. And neither do they.

But as I drove away thinking about the inevitability of all of our deaths and the subsequent funerals and services, it came to me that she's not *mine* to bury. Whether I preside at her funeral or anyone else's, these aren't *my* people any more than they were the previous pastor's or the next. These are God's people, and God will be there regardless of my presence or claims.

I'm still learning. I'm still learning. I'm still learning. Thank God, I'm still learning.

10 comments:

juniper68 said...

hugs and thanks from another learner

Kathryn said...

Thanks, my friend. I was reflecting on this only on Sunday.One dear lady here suddenly looks very frail and I was worrying/wondering whether she would actually be here when I return from India,- which led me onto the need to be there for her death...and the thought of all those others whom I will leave in the next year or so when my curacy ends. I needed your reminder.
Hugs xx

ppolarbear said...

(o)

ppolarbear said...

(o)

Sue said...

It seems as if the more I learn, the more I discover that i need to learn.

Iris said...

I appreciate your words, thank you.

St. Casserole said...

We "practice" ministry. We don't "master" it.

And, it's a pleasure to me to be a learner and seeker.

Love this post!

Mary Beth said...

Whew. Great stuff. thanks

Pink Shoes said...

Thanks, folks. The more I've thought about the occasion (and the post) I realize that as frustrated as I was with someone who didn't share, it's a struggle to share ministry ... and to remember that our claims are not the ones that are important. I'm sure I'll be writing more on this idea.

the reverend mommy said...

(o)