All Courses Forums Course Discussion Forums Creating a Caring Presence Week One: Introduction and Chapter One

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      Rose McKeown

      Week One: Primer: Introduction and Chapter One

      “With the use of a primer, not only were differing levels taught but the older students could mentor younger students in the fundamentals of learning”. The author speaks of creating a ‘learning community’ inclusive of all diversities. This has been my experience as a chaplain. That I am always learning from those I encounter and they are also learning from me. Ministry is a mutual experience for the good or for the not so good! The patient I visit teaches me how to be with them.
      I share and example of pastoral care that I was called to give this past week. I was called in to the ER last Friday evening. An elderly woman, with dementia, was sent in from a local nursing home. When I arrived, nursing shared of their concern that we were attempting CPR on an elderly, frail woman who was not really going to survive. Patient’s three sons all lived at a distance and the POA wanted CPR continued even though none of the family would be able to be there or see the condition that their mom was in. Eventually, the POA, via phone, agreed to stop CPR after speaking with the doctor and nurses. The patient died as soon as CPR was stopped. I was not there to be on the phone with the family as the doctor and nurse was doing that. My pastoral care was with the deceased patient and with the doctor and nurses who cared for her. They voiced their sadness that this patient died with no family present. My pastoral care was mostly a ministry of a responsive presence as staff expressed their grief. Staff knew this patient as she has been to the ER various times. At patient’s bedside, I invited staff to pray with me for the patient and her family. She was of the Christian faith. Afterwards, staff expressed how grateful they were to be included in this prayer ritual as together we handed the patient over to the Lord. Staff taught me how to be with them. It was real team work as we ministered to one another and to the patient who had just died in our presence.

      In the introduction, the author shares how this book began as ‘a written introduction to pastoral care, something that could be adapted to a weekend or two-day training retreat for lay persons”. It is a well-written primer with foundational teachings for lay and ordained. A ‘primer’ , a ‘beginner’s guide’ and a Buddhist teaching is that we are ‘always beginners’. And, we never know when we will be called upon to give pastoral care as the author shared how she was going to the hospital to visit a friend who had been rushed there for emergency surgery. While there, she was called upon to care for a family whose loved one had just died in a car accident. A God-incidence that she was there.

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