Being there, being here
Imagine you’re in hospital. You’ve had an accident and never imagined this disruption to your life. You’re worried about how people will cope without you. You’re scared you won’t get back to normal. You’re in pain and you don’t like taking a lot of painkillers.
Or else the unexpected came about in a completely different way – a tiresome cough or a wee lump or diarrhoea was suspected by your GP to be a symptom of a cancer. So now here you are, in a hospital bed, waiting for surgery, terrified, completely out of your comfort zone, and with the same anxieties as the person who’s had an accident.
Your family are anxious too, but you don’t want to burden them, so you put on a brave face. Your friends feel that this is a time for your family, so they don’t visit. Nobody knows what to say for the best, and that includes you.
Is there a way out of this mess? This maze?
Yes, there is. In the person of your minister. Here is someone who is familiar with hospitals, whether the stay is unexpected or scheduled. Someone who cares about you but is not part of the family. Someone to whom you can speak honestly, knowing that they won’t pass it on to anyone else. Someone who might even be able to reassure you, through a wee prayer, or holding your hand, or just sitting quietly beside you. They won’t judge, or offer false promises or fake reassurances.
So, are thoughts such as these in the minds of members of both congregations who reckoned that hospital visiting should be the minister’s top priority?
Out of 18 headings, this came out as number 1, with 36 votes, the next being preparation for leading worship with 33. (More on our survey results to follow in future posts.)
13 people thought that members of the congregation could also do hospital visiting. And why not? Ministers are not the only ones who can bring comfort to the patient, and some lay people, even without training, will do it better than the minister.
So that’s reassuring – for anyone reading this who might be considering applying to fill our vacancy. You’re not expected to do all the hospital visits on your own. (NB nearly everyone admitted to hospital in Dundee will go to Ninewells, which is 10-15 minutes drive from the manse, and less from the churches, depending on the traffic.)
Sometimes called “the ministry of presence”, we shouldn’t underestimate the value of just being there.
And though we’re keeping busy and planning ahead (Local Church Review next year), especially now with our St Andrew’s Day celebrations soon and the Christmas Fayre season, we’d love you (our new minister) to be here.