It’s over. The summer field placement at St. Paul’s. Richard and I finished up the last of what we needed to do; now it’s just the assessments that need to be done. My blog’s subtitle, “Encountering and Sharing Christ at St. Paul’s Senior Homes” will be retired with this 10th and last blog. Or will it?
During our time here, we had other things going on out in the world aside from St. Paul’s… one of those events was the General Convention. I listened to our Presiding Bishop-elect’s sermon at the General Convention, and was captured with the title of his sermon “Go!” and also a quote (I am paraphrasing here) “God loves you just the way you are; but he doesn’t intend for you to stay that way!”
When I was assigned the Spring Theological Field Study (2) then Summer Field Placement, I considered them tasks to be completed from the School for Ministry; graduation/ordination requirements to be met. I came to see that these studies/experiences were much more than tasks to be completed they were formation and I will take that a step further and say for me, they were transformative. “God loves you just the way you are; but he doesn’t intend for you to stay that way”, indeed.
The title of the Presiding Bishop-elect’s sermon was “Go!”- the first word in the Great Commission…and I think back now on these studies(both Spring and Summer), and SFM was saying just that – “GO!” Go to the Showers of Blessings…go to St. Paul’s Senior Homes and learn how to tell the Good News”. At the same time, I believe Jesus was saying, “Come. Come here. Come here and see.”
Who knew by showing up early at the Manor to join the Tuesday night Bingo session (as requested) would bring Christ into the lobby , telling me to “Come in. Sit down and wait. I have something to show you”. And that night, the forming of the Grief Group began.
Showing up a little early at the MHC to wait for the interfaith service to begin (as assigned), walking into the dining room filled with people asleep in their wheel chairs, some with IV’s, positioned around tables, and clustered in front of a blaring TV that no one was watching. Thinking to myself, how much good could I do here with everyone asleep, or seemingly unaware of what was going on around them. Sitting down next to a woman who seemed awake, at a table, with no one to talk to and not interested in TV, we managed a little conversation. Then I noticed a bookshelf filled with books and children’s jig saw puzzles. We spent the better part of an hour putting together a 24 pc. puzzle. It was painstakingly slow, and I was reminded of helping my 3-year-old daughter with puzzles; I would hand her the piece, help guide her hand very close to the “fit” of the piece, and let her feel the triumph of completion as she locked it in. Looking back on that now, I think Jesus sat with us for that hour.
Being present at the Sunday morning service (non-denominational) at the Villa with assisted living and Memory Care residents…sitting next to MC resident in a wheel chair, holding her hand because she had a bad morning coming down in the elevator, and was shook up…as the service progressed, she held my hand so tightly that the circulation was cut off…she noticed it before I did…apologized and gently rubbed my hand as she continued to hold on. When the service was over and she was wheeled out of the chapel, she leaned over and kissed me on the cheek, and said “I love you.”
One evening we wandered up to the dining room for Memory Care, and one of the residents, an energetic, direct woman was playing the piano- taking requests from a list of tunes someone had printed up that was at least 4 pages long. She played by ear, and told me her story of how she played piano for a church starting when she was 9 years old. This story, I suspect is the one left she still remembers about her life, and the songs she will never forget. The joy of telling that story and playing so beautifully for all to hear was so apparent in her eyes…Then Fred, another resident at Memory Care, stands up and asks Judy to dance. They are both delighted with each other. This is the same Fred who has difficulty playing Bingo and finding B-11 on his card… but now, Fred is transformed in his mind back to a time when he was on a dance floor in a night club, with a full orchestra playing his favorites, he straightens up a little, now he’s in his best suit, his feet glide around the dining room floor, he twirls Judy and brings her back to perfect dance position, his left hand-held high, his right hand at the top of Judy’s waist. Joy in both their eyes. Somehow I feel Jesus is smiling too.
Jesus was with us surely, the last time we entered the room of a 101 yr. old hospice patient; we’d visited her many times…today she looked very alert and interested in some pictures her daughter had left her with…we talked about them…discovered she was IN those pictures herself, something she didn’t realize until then…we held hands and prayed, told her we loved her…and she called to us on the way out, “Thank you.” …Richard and I looked at each other and we both knew she may not be with us the next time we stop by. But she knew she was loved … that seemed good enough for today.
Being present with those who mourn…having one of those mourners we are journeying with stand up at the last day of the Grief Group- hug me and say, ” You are in a little piece of my heart.” Jesus was there.
There are so many more stories…but now it’s finished, this Summer Field Placement. Now I see that it was much more than a requirement for ordination. I realize regardless of requirements, I would have no business wearing a collar without these experiences; without learning to see with Christ’s eyes…without encountering and sharing Christ.
Even the blogging assignment: “10 blogs”- Something to be completed? Yes. But more than that. For me, the experiences and “blogging” about them are transformative …they are seeing with Christ’s eyes – encountering him in each phrase…each recalling of a moment when we both showed up to see what would happen.
So, thank you Jesus. Thank you for tapping me on the shoulder and saying “Come and see.” I will continue to “GO!” to where you are telling me to “come and see”.
I plan on continuing this practice of offering my love of Christ up for transformation through a blog. I’m changing the subtitle to ” Encountering and Sharing Christ”.