Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pastoral Care Week

Pastoral Care Week begins October 21 to 27. This year’s theme is “Healing Faith”. This is not to be mistaken with “faith healing”, but rather faith that is healing. The themes for pastoral care week have centred on “healing” for the past few years. Last year, the theme was “healing humor”, the year before that it was “healing wisdom”, the year before that it was peace.

Every discipline or group seems to have a “week” or “month” that is designation as ___________ awareness week. It is a time to educate and network with the community. I think that a lot of people don’t really understand what Pastoral Care is. Probably because of the terms we use. “Spiritual Care”, “Chaplain”, “pastoral”. Either these terms are foreign to common vocabulary, or there may be mis-interpretation of the terms themselves, or perhaps a bad association/experience relating to these terms. I will admit that when I first heard the word “spiritual”, my interpretation related to New Age and mysticism. Now that I have been in this “field” for a number of years, I would like to think that I am more open minded.

Pastoral care is not about preaching at people and telling them what they did wrong, or that they are ill (as this is healthcare chaplaincy) because of something they did or did not do. That God is punishing them. We are about relationships. Helping to build people up and to help discover their own strengths within.

I am still struggling with the "image" of pastoral care. A lot of people mistake me for some other discipline because they are expecting "clergy garb". A collar or cross, or some other identifying characteristic. I guess a lot of people forget that God doesn't fit into a mold, but that we have tried to put God into one.