Monday, August 23, 2010

Keeping Witness

 How often I have kept witness with a dear one riding the knife of grief or sitting in the waiting chair while a loved one lies naked on a table somewhere getting knifed in a sterile environment amidst tubes and technical apparatus. How often I have sat in the embalming station as witness to a family painfully unearthing the inert facts about the deceased -- social security number, number of copies of the death certificate, favorite songs, casket color, grave opening. If you've lived very long then you know the drill.

But the drill is somewhat different for me. I am a pastor and I am privileged to see people at their worst. I see them when the veneer is cut and the raw wood is exposed. I see them in cursing foul moods and tender moments where humanness bleeds through in the broken spots.

As a small church pastor I am called to witness the onslaught of the human condition with them. Sadly, a large church pastor rarely has this opportunity -- being too busy with other important items. 

I'm fortunate. My job is not to offer advise our platitudes like so much worn down philosophical capsules, date expired, potency gone.  No, my job is to be a witness. I am to stand with the person in pain so that the pain and loss and grief does not go unnoticed. Their pain screams out to the world, "I am here!" Were it not for family and me, no one would hear; no one would take notice.