Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Finding Ways To Care/MANN

Caring for people is not new. Finding different ways to care for people according to their needs may be new. When I was ministering in a pastoral charge, ‘elder’s districts’ was a term that people understood and knew what to expect. And it worked for me as it’s such a simple and efficient way of staying in touch with people and walking with them through different seasons of life. Keeping in mind that  care teams need to understand that  different age groups see pastoral care from their particular perspective and need to honour that. Oh what a fine line all of this may seem and yet, as we continue to learn how important it is for people to feel in the loop, regardless of how wide it is, it’s worth working at it.

Since retiring from active pastoral charge ministry, I’ve had to find a different way to continue my need to care for people. I write letters to Amnesty International, knit prayer shawls, lead volunteer story-telling groups, make soup and casseroles and serve on a few committees.

Recently I visited with someone starting her chemotherapy and asked if she’d like a hand knit beanie. She accepted my gesture and shortly after I visited to give her the gift. She immediately removed it from the gift bag and placed it on her head.  We laughed together about how cute it looked and I asked if she would like socks to match. (You can see I was very sure of her response and I had already knit the cuff).

Yesterday I delivered the socks, slipped them on her feet and asked her if she wanted a scarf to match her beanie. When I came home I put the stitches on a needle to begin the scarf.

So what was the lesson here for me? I don’t think it’s about knitting these items as much as it is about three visits of caring. In our conversation, she asked about church and yes, since next week is sacrament of communion, she thought she’d like to attend.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care and it’s out of that care they respond to other areas of interest around them. That concept was proven to me through several clinical summers in Pastoral Care and Chaplaincy (CPE) and it has been a constant aid through thirty years of ministry.

The importance of this concept is captured in David Oliphant's thesis, A Philosophy of Pastoral Care, "Intentional Friendship" David says, "It is gaining a unique place within our secular society alongside other caring modalities such as social work, community work, and general counselling, specifically to help meet the religious, spiritual, emotional and pastoral needs of the general community."

We can’t all knit and many people don’t have a desire or time to spend in that manner. Other ways to let people know they are not forgotten such as a phone call is important, a greeting card is welcome and email is great to inquire but they are too easy and people soon figure that out.

I think we in the digital world can easily forget that there are many people who are not, either by choice or lifestyle. Face-to-face in whatever way is comfortable is still the best way to go.

Happy caring, folks.


Peter Black said...

Donna, thank you for sharing this example of practical creative caring, and the insightful lesson you bring in the spirit of Christ's love, through it. Beautiful! ~~+~~

Donna Mann said...

Thanks Peter - I haven't finished the scarf yet, but I'm hoping to get at this perhaps later today.

Eleanor Shepherd said...

Dear Donna,
I think you hit the key - doing what is meaningful for the person we serve and fitting our plans to their needs. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing this.

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