By Rev. Roger Peltier, Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care
I thought some pithy platitude like “Humankind. Be both.” would be a great way to introduce myself as your new Assistant Minister for Pastoral Care. Perhaps this bumper-sticker wisdom would make me sound smart or seem interesting.
Then, thought I, some keen observation about the world we share might be in order. After all, it really is notable that we live in a time when we have an ultra-abundance of ways to connect with each other—to communicate with one another—anywhere in the world. Yet, people say they are feeling more alone, more isolated, more dis-connected than at any other time in history.
Gee, I ask myself: “Doesn’t this make me sound so much more aware and observant?” Maybe so. Then, right on time, that old inner-voice calls me cuckoo! and says, “Okay, Roger, it’s time to come back down to Earth!” And I do, reluctantly sometimes, what with the impeachable or dubious promise for the future of our planet and practices.
It’s usually then, just before I start spiraling about our social woes, that I realize good pastoral care has nothing to do with how smart I might sound or how interesting I might be. And while it does have everything to do with connection, that connection isn’t meant to glorify me. In fact, good pastoral care has little to do with me at all—it’s really all about you!
Pastoral care offers YOU the chance to do the lovely, messy work of listening and connecting. It is a time for laughing, yes, and for crying, too; for grieving one’s losses even as one welcomes new hope. It helps each of us to explore more deeply being human and kind and together.
Togetherness is an aspect of pastoral care, happening only when two or more are present. It’s also a lifespan practice. Indeed, some of the most meaningful encounters with the sacred have happened while offering pastoral care to children. Finally, pastoral care, much like our UU 7th Principle, reminds us that we are all connected to the interdependent web of existence; that’s why we bless our animals each October.
For the past fifteen years in parish ministry I have ended my sermons with three phrases: “Be whole. Be well. Be you.” These words have been, at once, my blessing to all listeners while simultaneously carrying my intention for one’s physical and spiritual integrity. And now they have become an invitation, the goals of pastoral care, carrying with them my intention to meet that integrity in you.
Along with these thoughts on pastoral care, please use this invitation to reach out and say hello! Come, sing a song, dream a dream, share a sorrow, sit in silence with me…that I might know your mind. And I’ll bring you hope when hope is hard to find.
Friends, let’s connect!
Rev. Roger Peltier
firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-965-1212.