I'm sitting in the very quiet and dark chaplaincy office this morning -- on call for 24 hours. I got here at 8:30 and received a page at, you guessed it, 8:30 that I've just finished at 11:45. So I'm tired already.
What has struck me about this experience is how differently I am thinking about words. I had thought of what words -- and sweated over what words -- that I would need to use. And the fact of the matter is, they just don't matter. The family this morning was hispanic and I don't speak Spanish. Yet I was a pastor for them. It was my presence, prayers and touch that mattered. The "right words" will never hit that mark without the presence and the touch.
That is why this medium seems so very limited to me. I cannot use my hands to speak, I cannot touch the listener, I cannot be present, really present with the listener.
Henri Nouwen said, "Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure.”
It seems so periodic or cyclic to me. You have to have words, then silence, then words. You have to have listening, then speaking; distance then closeness -- and finally distance again.
I want to tell you all about some of my experiences here -- but they seem too tender and they really don't belong to me. But I will say that death is a sacred thing and I have shared sacred moments. I am grateful for those moments.
So now, I will rest and wait for the next page. And in a little while maybe I will have enough energy to pray. But maybe just sitting here and resting in the Presence is enough prayer. I don't think I'll need the words.