I joined colleagues today who are involved in healthcare ministry for a celebration of the eucharist at St Fin Barre's Cathedral followed by lunch kindly hosted by the Dean, Nigel Dunne. It was an opportunity to take some time out to reflect on our calling as we minister amongst those who are ill. I say amongst as it is so much closer to the heart of what healthcare ministry is about for me. I cringe when I hear people refer to or pray for 'the sick'. Such a description reveals a lot about the person using it!
'The sick' are always remote, distant and a barrier is erected between us and 'them'. Real pastoral presence for me is about coming alongside a fellow human being and being a companion on their journey for a while. It is road to Emmaus stuff. It is the art of being able to meet someone where they are in a natural, accepting and loving way. This presence allows a person to be honest about what's going on for them and to journey forward in a trusting way. If we think about it there are very few people with whom we can be fully honest without fear of judgement. In this sacred space healing is more important than 'cure'. What do you think?
For good measure here is St Luke as depicted on the pulpit in St Fin Barre's Cathedral.