What images come to mind when considering the word “pastoral?” Perhaps you hear strains of violins as you recall Beethoven’s 6th Symphony (Pastoral), or maybe you envision a painting such as George Inness’s Pastoral Scene, which features cattle grazing by the riverside juxtaposed with a verdant tree with a branch stripped bare. For many, the word pastoral brings forth images of calm, simplicity or an idealized version of life. What happens to those images when adding the word “care” to your pastoral musings? “Pastoral Care.” What meaning do those words hold for you?
Would it surprise you to learn that pastoral care is an ancient model of emotional, social and spiritual support that can be found in all cultures and traditions? The term is inclusive of non-religious forms of support, as well as support for people from religious communities. In our UUCF community, the Pastoral Care Ministry complements the roles of our ministers by providing an extended, comprehensive ministry of pastoral care. It is a lay ministry of trained providers who offer a caring presence and spiritual support to congregants who are experiencing stress and life challenges or who may be celebrating joyful milestones. Who in our congregation would NOT have welcomed a caring presence during this past year? For those who are comfortable seeking a listening ear or gentle presence during times of stress, Pastoral Care is here to help.
For more stoic souls who draw inward during times of stress and tend to rely more on their inner strength than on the shoulders of others, focusing on resilience may be your thing. Each of us has our go-to strategies when faced with challenges, however, we may need reminders from time to time to practice what we have learned, or to branch out to try something new to soothe our souls. Here are a few suggestions that may help lighten your heart.
Remember to …
Spend time with those who calm, encourage and inspire. Listen and share, openly and honestly. Hold hands or hug when it’s safe to do so. Engage your relationship with the spiritual presence within you.
Defy the ever-serious world by choosing to smile, laugh and play. Cultivate your sense of humor. Do something creative just for fun. Go ahead and rejoice, dance and sing.
Tend to your heart
Pause often to come back to your true center. Pray. Feel the presence of a higher power. Simple activities like mindful breathing, searching the night sky and spending time in nature will settle our hearts.
Whatever your version of Pastoral Care, the Pastoral Care Ministry is here to offer support in times of need. Just as each of us must extend ourselves to others at times, each also needs someone reaching out to us at some point in our lives – a time when a gift of caring can make a tremendous difference. We might not always know what we need, but we know we need help, and the Pastoral Care Lay Ministers are available to provide that gift of caring.