At church this past Sunday, one of my parishioners–a friend, a leader, someone whom I truly care for–came up to me after the worship service and asked, “Jim, can we find some time to talk this week?”
This is not a phrase I particularly ENJOY hearing. See, I do enjoy being involved in people’s lives and I do appreciate the fact that I can be with them as they are facing difficult decisions or walking more difficult paths than they are used to. I will be with them as they struggle with issues of divorce. I will talk with them when they a facing medical issues or parenting issues. I will talk them through hard discussions about moving out of state or business decisions or marriage or funerals. I will hold their hand as they struggle with pain and loss. But, this can all be very hard.
So, my heart sank, to some extent when I heard the words “Can we find some time to talk.” I was pretty sure this was either going to be one of the “medical” discussions or one of the “moving away from Girdwood” discussions, with an outside shot of it being related to children or spouse. It’s not that I had any particular indication that it was going to be these. That’s just where my heart and mind went.
And, as we sat in the coffee shop this week, making small talk, I kept waiting for the proverbial “bomb” to drop on the conversation where I would not only have to shift into “pastoral care mode” but would also hurt because of that this person was gong through or because they were leaving or whatever.
But there was no “bomb.”
This person really just wanted to talk.
Nothing was pressing.
We just shared life for 90 minutes or so. We laughed. We recognized some of the struggles we both face.
And then we went our separate ways.
The other person just really wanted to talk, to catch up.
And it was wonderful.