Years ago, on my first day at work in Dunsford United Church, Linda, the board chair handed me a list of eight names. “These people need visiting” she said. “See Jean first. Her husband died last year and she’s having rough time. You’ll like Jean. She’s a sweetheart.”
Starting in a new place is always difficult. I was grateful for the list. Pastoral care is such an important part of a minister’s work. About three that afternoon, I set down my pen and gathered up my purse. The sermon for Sunday is started, I thought. I’ll go see Jean now.
Jean lived just up the road from the church. When I rang the doorbell, a beautiful white haired woman in her early eighties greeted me with a big smile. “Come in. Come in.” she said. “I’m so glad to see you. To think that you’ve started with me. What a privilege.” With that, a precious friendship began.
Even though caregiving for the church or as a neighbour requires time and patience , it also can be a source of abundant learning and joy. Over my five years serving Dunsford United Church, and caring for Jean, she taught me an important lesson.
Every day, Jean misses Lawrence, her friend and lover of more than sixty years, and yet she is always ready to share her life with others. She believed that when grief threatens to consume you, turn your heart and mind to someone else who needs you. As you focus on giving to another, you will discover that healing has begun for you. Jean lived that wisdom.
Yes, I cared for Jean, and Jean cared for me. Her love and support carried me in my rough times. She has taught me to recognize the Joy and the Learning that comes when we step outside of ourselves.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)