“On a lighter note, your brief verbatim report reminds me of the hundreds I wrote during my CPE days. As you reflect on the account, I wonder how you felt about the encounter, what you were feeling, and what the theological significance of the visit was? I raise these questions because they illustrate some of the kinds of things we will be discussing going forward.” – Rick
MY FEELINGS – 1) As I left the room I was very sad for L. Her husband had died a year and a half ago, suffering from dementia. They had moved from Maryland and she had a hard time coming to terms with the loss of familiar friends. Her time since her husband’s death has been marked by recurring complicated medical problems and injuries. I was sad to reflect on what it must be like for her to face these life thretening illnesses without her husband or her close friends nearby. I felt a connection with her through this. I would like to follow up and help her explore her feelings at this time. – 2) My sadness also rose from a wonderment: Will this be her slide into being less independent. She indicated that she expects to need nursing care following this hospitalization. (I think I left this out of the dialogue…) -3) I was also aware of being curious what the plea in prayer for renewal of faith meant? I would like to invite her to tell me more about this.
THEOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE – 1) I left wondring about the ways God uses suffering to reach people. Suffering is seen by some as a reason to doubt the goodness of God (theodicy). I don’t have well thought out expositions here, but I am pondering how God seems to have used this moment to work inwardly in her in the context of her long held anger and episodes of illness. It causes me to think about what redemption of suffering might look like. It might not be remission of illness, cesation of pain, or complete restoration to health. It might be coming back to a living trust in God as divine companion who goes with us through the “valley” My role as a caring presence could be to help her explore this as she makes meaning out of this time in her life. – David