By Joe Torosian
“But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity
Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me.”—Simon & Garfunkel
The two biggest lessons I learned in ministry, were not learned in church, in a class, on a mission trip, at a camp, or during a retreat.
By the time Megan was born in 1995, I had been working in ministry full-time for nearly six years. I’d seen people die. I’d seen them in the final stages of cancer. I’d been there to see family gathered around a loved one in their last few minutes.
I was pretty good at doing the right thing at the right time. I prayed, comforted, and fetched food, coffee, and water as an ICU siege played out.
With sincerity, I would often place a hand on a forearm of someone hurting and say, “I’ll pray for you.”
Megan was born at 12:37 AM and was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital at about 5: AM… I was told to go home and get some sleep and then come to the hospital later that day. I was assured it was precautionary and did as I was told.
By the time we arrived the storm was in full bloom…We got all the bad news…and as they were about to transfer Megan to Children’s Hospital at 5: PM…A nurse—and they were all amazing—put her hand on my forearm and said with sincerity, “I’ll pray for you.”
It was surreal—there were a lot of surreal things to come over the 72-hours of this experience—as my own words came back to me. And as sincere as that nurse was it did not move the needle towards peace/calm/comfort.
After all the hospital visits, ICUs, death moments, emergency rooms…It was my first step to sensing real empathy for what people were going through in those forever altering life moments. It made my prayers deeper for others in the future…It turned them into a sort of groaning as if it were my loved one in critical condition…I never again turned it off when I left the hospital or got in my car. My heart was still with those in the hospital, trapped in an ICU siege.
Words are mediocrity when you need someone to comfort you. I’m not in anyway a subscriber to church ritual beyond communion and baptism…but what I was doing prior to Megan was ritual. What I did after was everything I could to bring Christ’s comfort into a time of pain.
I don’t believe there’s any course in the Elder track of Church of The Nazarene that can teach this…Only the Holy Spirit and a moment colliding can bring this about.
Sometimes one of the greatest
Joe T. is the author of “Tangent Dreams: A High School Football Novel” … “Temple City & The Company of The Ages” … “The Dead Bug Tales” … “The Dark Norm” & “FaithViews for Storm Riders”…all available through Amazon.com.