She became ordained and served a congregation in the poverty belt for a good many years; she was kind enough to serve as a reference for me when I applied for my position as a hospital chaplain. Then she moved upward through the ranks of her denomination and I took her out to lunch in celebration. We still didn't have more in common than our name and our sanity, but we still had those, and that was enough. I mentioned my frustration with my position at The Little Church and she listened like a good pastor would.
A couple of weeks ago a message appeared in my inbox. Nancy was writing to tell me that a continuing care community Not Terribly Far From Philadelphia was looking to establish a care-giving position for residents in transition or experiencing loss. She thought I might want to learn more; the position and I seemed, to her, like a perfect fit.
A meeting with the admin team was wonderful. The community is beautiful, the residents are people of privilege, the administrators are deeply caring people. As we spoke about the position they want to establish, it was as though we all had the same job description on paper in front of us, except there was no job description at all. We worked together imagining possibilities. The position would be a sort of low-key pastoral care position, working with residents who had been widowed, who had lost friends, who were losing their independence. It would mostly involve listening, supporting, and exploring options. We spoke enthusiastically, finishing each others' sentences, referring to the position as "The Listener." It was easy to envision myself in this beautiful setting, working hand-in-hand with these lovely people, helping residents get through their hard times. Again, it seemed a perfect fit.
Enthusiastically, we moved on to the next step: scheduling a meeting with a group of residents.