As a pastor I find myself talking with folks a lot. Sometimes as we wait for a loved one to get checked in before a surgery. Sometimes as a couple explores questions concerning baptizing a child. Sometimes as we share a meal and just get to know each other.
Often these conversations remain somewhat surface, barely more than, “Crazy weather, huh?”
Other times, I am invited into a deeper place.
This is one of the things I didn’t take a class for in seminary. I never received any special instructions on what to do or what to say when I find myself in these intimate moments.
And still, I find myself there often.
If you and I have had such a conversation, I pray I was a good listener. It’s a sacred privilege to be let into your life; to see behind the curtain. I hope you know how special these conversations are for me and how humbled I am when I find myself so close to your heart. When you open yourself to me, I find the freedom to open myself to you and in that sharing I become more human. It’s a scary place sometimes, but it is in these moments I get a sense of the “big picture”. We need each other and we need folks we can be completely open with.
Now sometimes, the conversations I have had are of an entirely different sort. Sometimes I find myself becoming the recipient of care and wisdom and love.
A while back, as I went to visit a couple I’ve known for many years, I had such an experience.
As I sat talking with the wife (her husband was enduring some obviously painful testing mere feet from us), the conversation turned to my children.
This woman spoke so lovingly of my kids you would have thought they were hers.
She spoke of how she could imagine my children in the future and of the people they would become.
She sees a zest for life in my son I myself have seen. Instead of giving me advice about how to corral that spunk or channel his energy, she compared him to others in her life she has known. She sees this handful of a child growing into a person who so enjoys life that wherever he is and whatever he does he will enjoy it to the full. She sees those around him having better, fuller lives for being around him. That his enthusiasm will rub off on those around him and their lives will be enriched for knowing him. Lord, may it be so.
When she spoke of my older child, my daughter, her insight was almost uncanny. She says, “I can see your daughter being a teacher.” “That’s what she often talks about becoming”, I say. “I can see it in the way she walks, in the things she does,” the woman adds. “It’s a special person who has the gift of teaching.” My gifted child…serious, self-critical, high-strung, driven, and passionate, and funny, and creative…gifted. Lord, bless the child? He already has.
Sometimes I go to counsel, to support, to “pastor”. Sometimes, I find I am the one who receives the blessing I have hoped to share.
Only God knows what my children will become and do. Maybe this woman’s visions for my children will come to pass. I kind of think they will. There was power in the words she spoke through her smile. There was something bigger than me in her sparkling eyes. There was wisdom and humor and joy. There was Spirit.
There are conversations I will have today. Some will be forgotten moments after their conclusion. Others will leave a mark; they will become a part of me. Will we talk today? What kind of conversation will we have?
Life is better together,