Recently, we (the 4 residents) have been exploring different images that serve as good metaphores for pastoral care in the hospital. The wounded healer, the wise fool, the intimate stranger, and even the circus clown have all been inspiring images from which we can take parts to inform our care.
After finishing Dykstra's book, Images of Pastoral Care, our teacher inspired us to come up with our own images that represent some part, though not all, of our own pastoral style. The following is mine.
I am a good listener. Holding my tongue and reserving my opinion come naturally to me during conversation. I am also a musician. I love listening to, playing and creating music.
In patient rooms I do lots of listening. I hear stories, complaints, tales of woe, theological copings and difficult questions. I hear people’s lives poured out. Their struggles, fears, life narratives, greatest achievements and deepest passions are mine, even if only for a few moments.
Much of my response is to keep them talking. And within the wealth of information and emotion that they share I always begin to see the beautiful people which they are. I become able to see not the drug addict but the innocent boy beaten down too many times by life who turned to narcotics as a means of survival. It's amazing how compassion userps the space previously occupied by judgment and prejudice. I see the beauty underneath all the pain, the clean sheet underneath its stains.
I make effort to sift through the superfluous details of people’s stories and find my way to their pain, to their beauty. I find myself filtering through the white noise of their stories trying to pull out the purity of their being and empower them to recognize it for themselves.
Reflecting on my pastoral care described this way an image began to form in my mind. A musical image, it is befitting that I thought of a Recording Studio Technician. The studio technician must also be a good listener. He or she is listening to musicians pour out their lives through music.
Song lyrics express life’s struggles, fears, stories and passions. Much like a patients spills it to the chaplain, the musician sings (spills?) it for the technician. However, after the recording session is complete the technician has work to do. Raw sound tracks are accompanied with white noises and unnecessary sounds that must be filtered out before the beauty of the song can be brought to bear. A good technician can quickly see or hear the purity and beauty of a song that simply needs to be uncovered.
So, much like a recording technician sifts through a newly recorded song/track to clean it up, I find myself sifting through people’s stories in order to help them find their clean self, to help people see themselves as God does: pure, and good and loved.