Pastoral care: The art of taking the most scarred and vulnerable pieces of oneself and holding them in constant tension with one’s own unique giftedness and voice, resulting in a serendipitous encounter in which one’s past meets his or her present with wisdom and a discerning eye for purpose and story. Life events are organized into nuggets, like puzzle pieces, of joy, pain, sorrow and celebration and the story is told. The story is expressed in the way the chaplain provides care for a hurting patient or family member. The story is expressed when the chaplain discovers a piece of him or herself in the recipient of pastoral care, and is able to identify yet another not-quite-scabbed over with which to deal and from which to grow. The story finds meaning and purpose in the chaplain’s ability to take each part of the chaplain’s own story, each time he or she enters the room, and put each piece together into a new story, that weaves the pain of this moment, the joys of previous moments, the caregiver’s experience and the care receiver’s expectations, into the larger story of a God who journeys with broken people and meets them where their stories intersect. Behind the hospital doors, in the tears of scared parents and hurting patients, in the insecurities of chaplains and the holiness of a higher power who stands beside them all, everyone’s story meets the story of God: things that don’t seem sacred like the God-forsaken hospitalization of a child are revealed to have been a holding cell for the holy all along, waiting to be revealed in the telling, retelling and reimagining of each story. The stories go on, and God’s story goes on.
God’s story: the ebb and flow of a life that never made sense until that day behind the pulpit in the class that didn’t make fun, with the professor who supported. The exhausting act of trying to measure up that met truth in speaking up and speaking out. The interviews, verbatim, and encounters, the tutus and the tears, the prayers and the smiles that led one person to the halls of one of the most celebrated children’s hospitals in the nation, into the lives of hurting people and through which she danced her way into purpose, calling and meaning, and little by little and day after day, closeness to God’s heart, and God’s story.