So, I’m discovering the skills I’ve gained as a hospital chaplain over the past few years are really helpful (not surprising but refreshing). I spent Saturday afternoon on Passyunk Avenue seeing if I could make some friends and I think I did… wow! It felt a lot like I was on the 3rd floor of the hospital meeting all the new patients and keeping up with those who had been there. I’ve spent a good chunk of my time striking up conversations with strangers and going deep. I wasn’t sure if that could work on the street, but essentially, I’m deploying the same strategy.
While I worked at the hospital I developed my thinking about myself and my work at the hospital. Clinical Pastoral Education or CPE requires you to do this and I’m glad because the theory is mapping onto my new calling.
“I have developed my own theory of pastoral care, or at least my own image of pastoral care. Robert Dykstra wrote, “Having access to a variety of metaphors for ministry provided a modicum of courage and guidance when … I could not possibly have known what I was doing.” (Dykstra, Images of Pastoral Care, 2005 p.8) To the many of the metaphors he compiles in this book, I have added the image of myself as friend.
I connect it with Jesus’ command to his disciples in John 15. “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:15-17)
I have taken my needed “modicum of courage and guidance” from Jesus himself. This image lines up exactly with my values, basic assumptions and personhood. I value Jesus above all else and I live out of his love to the best of my ability. Psychologically, it seems I am especially wired for relationship and much of my motivation for a lot of what I do stems out of my desire to be accepted and loved by others. I desire to do with those I encounter what I most deeply desire to receive.”
I went out and did this on Saturday afternoon. Looking for people who wanted someone to listen and offering my love and friendship to them. There were several who wanted to connect. The best story was this guy who collects old bottles. He digs most of them out of the ground and knows tons about Philadelphia history and the history of bottle manufacturing. We talked for a while and I was completely fascinated. Eventually I shared that my grandfather owned a bottling company in Southern California called Bireley’s… and then BAM! Dude pulls out two Bireley’s bottles and straight up gives them to me. Talk about receiving! This is the sort of blessing that needs to be told far and wide. I love this guy now! I love Passyunk Ave. (such a cool place with lots of cool people)! I love Philadelphia and all the potential friends she offers me!