Thursday, September 9, 2010
Thoughtful Thursday...Ponderings from the Accidental Pastor's Wife
Why I Knock on Every Door
Our family has been involved in nursing home/assisted living center ministry for many years. Each Sunday brings a new story, a new event, a new experience; you never know what is going to happen. For the most part, the residents are happy to see you. Many have few visitors and welcome the company and interaction. Some are unhappy to be there and can be quite difficult to make contact with. Of all the stories I could tell you, some funny, some emotional, I am going to share a lesson from a woman named Cecilia.
We had been holding services in this center for several years when Miss Cecilia moved in. She was not particularly happy to be there nor was she very social. My first Sunday to knock on her door, she firmly told me I was the wrong church. You see, Miss Cecile is a Catholic; she was concerned that I would try to change her Catholic beliefs. I reassured her that she was still welcome to come but she firmly declined.
Every week I knocked on her door; her response to me was the same firm reply. I asked if it was okay to simply check in for a visit when we were there..she accepted. At my knock, our conversation changed, "Good afternoon, Miss Cecile...Yes ma'am I know you are Catholic I just wanted to stop by and say hello..Is there any thing I can pray about for you?" We would have a brief conversation and I would be on my way. After introducing my husband to her once, he occasionally came by with me to "say hello" to her.
As it goes, Miss Cecile's health began to fail her. She was beginning to live with pain and often had an attendant with her. When I knocked, she would call me to her bed and ask for prayer or for "the pastor" to come pray for her. We always did. On her better days, her attendant would wheel Miss Cecile down to hear the singing or the piano played..and occasionally sit for a bit of the service until she felt the need to rest.
This was our relationship for several months. One Sunday she seemed particularly distressed. We visited her for a time, prayed with her and went home with her on our hearts. She passed away that week. What a blessing it is to know that we got to know, to care about, to pray with this unique woman.
I know not every knock on the door will end this way; not every difficult visit becomes a friendly relationship, but why not try. Some times the most difficult resident is just a person who needs to be given a moment of respect or personal care, a listening ear or a sounding board. Not every door will be opened, but when I am there, every door will be knocked on.