Isn't it weird when you go into a situation fully expecting to be the pastoral caregiver and at the end of the interaction, you realize that you were more the receiver than the giver?
I came to the hospital today to see a member who had a recent knee replacement (he's the member in tale #1 of Tales of a Bumbling Intern). I made it to the correct room but saw that someone was in there talking to him. I stood in the hallway for a few seconds. The thought of leaving crossed my mind. But I stayed firm and decided to just go on in. So I peeked in and "Hal" noticed that I was there. He smiles and calls me in and introduces me to his sister, who was visiting. I ask the usual "How are things going?" and he says good and then starts telling his sister how great he thinks I am, how he thinks I'm going to be such a good pastor, and he likes it when I preach because I get up there, get to the point and get down. I was a little taken aback. I wasn't expecting that at all. So I say an embarrassed thank you, and we exchange a few more pleasantries, and then I say that I'll go and let him visit some more with his sister, and that if he's still there on Thursday that I'll see him then.
The purpose of my visit was to be a caring presence in Hal's day, to offer him words of hope during his hospital stay. And I think I did, but I also think I received much more than I gave. Hal was a caring presence in my day, and offered me words of hope for my internship and my calling to the ministry.
And I don't like to do hospital visits because why?