In a world of those 'spiritual, but not religious' there is still a rich world of spiritual care that intersects the tender moments in peoples lives beyond the walls of our churches.
This week, they have been integral to the unfolding events in Boston. Integral and often unseen. They stand in the place that needs the compassionate presence of Christ in the chaos of the moment. They are known as chaplains, spiritual companions, pastoral counselors, among other names. They are pastors beyond the walls. They stand at street corners, hospitals, waiting rooms, offices and hospices and bedsides. They hold tears, sobs and silence. They watch over rescue workers who are responding in the middle of smoke and blood. They sit with families waiting for news of loved ones. They hold hands with those waking up from surgery into a new world of being and those who are about to leave this world for God's realm. They weep with those who mourn and laugh with those who need release. They are the grounding that allows doctors and nurses, police and paramedics do their work efficiently; giving them a sense of comfort from beyond when the here and now is too challenging. They are the shoulder to cry on when the urgency of crisis has passed and responders can finally touch upon that flood of emotions. They will be present at prayer vigils and bedside vigils.
This week they have been called upon to see and hear what people should never have to see and hear. They have been called upon to find that inner reserve of faith that allows them to be present to the needs of the moment. And without question they have responded and will continue to respond long after the shift has ended.
For many in this world who have turned away from the institutional faith for any number of reasons, these folks are the face of God to the weary and wounded. And they are good at it. And I am grateful.
A disaster chaplain shared a perspective on this work and on ways to mitigate trauma. Its entitled "Why Marathons Matter" (Rev. Earl E. Johnson, Huffington Post)
On May 9th there will be Day of Covenant gathering in Framingham from 5:30 - 8:00 PM for all UCC clergy in 'Specialized Ministries'. It will be a time to celebrate this work for those who serve in it, and wonder about ways to be supportive of each other.
For the Disaster Resource Team
Don Remick is Bridge Conference Minister.