At one point during my chaplaincy training, I gave a presentation about Quakers and pastoral care and spoke about my time in Hebron, Al-Khalil where I told a story about standing in front of an Israeli soldier who had his gun pointed at me. While in another context I could have stopped the story there, demonstrating my courage or my fearlessness, that’s not what this story was about. “What God calls me to do,” I said, “is to love the soldier. To love the young Palestinian boy who is throwing stones AND the teenage soldier who wants to kill him.” I believe that it is my responsibility to reach out and touch the hearts of these two archetypes with my heart, to see the God in them and to meet them in our shared humanity. “And that is the difference,” my supervisor commented, “between the war story and the pastoral one.”
As I pause and think about the breadth of what I feel called to do in terms of ministry in this world is very simply that kind of love; a responsibility to love others even when it is hard and confusing. I forget sometimes that everyone around me doesn’t see the world that way; that their stories of standing in front of violence or oppression doesn’t end with loving the person they are facing; it doesn’t end with being called to reach out with Spirit and touch the heart, the humanity, the divine in them.
My call to this responsibility is the experience of entering into a world view where this response is instinctual; being a public gospel minister in the old Quaker sense meant being ready to love others in radical and often unconventional ways. My first instinct, which faced with challenge is to head into the confusion, the chaos, the danger, or the whatever it may be, rather than to run. So that when a patient tells me that they are preparing to die, or my beeper displays a code blue, I do not turn and run, but I engage, wholly with my heart, wholly with my humanity, and wholly with the God within me. The front lines I see each and every day in the hospital, with loved ones in their homes, and with friends who need those moments of care, aren’t as glamorous as the worn-torn parts of the world; yet in their own ways, the battlefields of our hearts, our minds, and our souls need courage and love too.
This intrinsic nature of the call affirms my expression of faithfulness as being fully who I am. It is a heart motion, a bursting forth, a being filled experience. John Woolman, a Quaker activist and minister wrote as the first line in his journal “Love was the first motion.” First there is a upwelling of love, of Spirit, of being, and then there is a bursting forth, a movement into action. For me that comes in many forms and as a whole I find myself drawn into ministry from many angles:
**click on the links above for more information about these different ministries**