Geranium Farm Home     Who's Who on the Farm     The Almost Daily eMo     Subscriptions     Coming Events     Links
Hodgepodge     More or Less Church     Ways of the World     Father Matthew     A Few Good Writers     Bookstore
Light a Prayer Candle     Message Board     Donations     Gifts For Life     Pennies From Heaven     Live Chat

More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
Send emails to: or add a comment on an existing post.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Paying a Visit

When I was growing up, my boundary-less family had no problems showing up on someone else's doorstep without warning. Then again, everyone in the neighborhood did just about the same thing. The extended family certainly did. Arrangements were infrequently made ahead of time... With the exception of the yearly July 4 barbecue where a cast of a hundred would eventually make the rounds to our home.

Oh, how times have changed! With handhelds and computerized calendars, we schedule recreation, study, exercise programs, driving the kids here and there (to THEIR appointments), medical checkups, errands, shopping, block time for business, church and social appointments.

These commitments go by the wayside when we are faced with serious illness - our own or that of someone near and dear to us. Priorities change. Days in the hospital smush together, a series of pokes, prods, pills, punctures and procedures. Time stands on its ear - our bodies, minds and spirits are going through a perilous journey, sometimes short sometimes seemingly interminably long.

For the sake of this writing, let's include you in the role of someone who is a passing acquaintance of the person concerned: you are both parishioners at St. Simeon's Church. You are Mr. X and Mrs. P has broken her hip and there are some medical complications. No, you don't know Mrs. P well; she is long widowed and in her 80's. She has no family. She was taken to the local hospital for initial care and most probably will go to a local rehab/nursing facility with the hope that she will recover and be able to go back to her own home.

You, Mr. X, are not comfortable in hospitals. The smells, the sounds are unnerving to you. None of your close relatives have been to the hospital except to have babies; none of them are elderly, none of your close relatives have died. And besides..... what can you talk about??

Take heart: You've got lots of options. You can learn from your parish care team (headed by priest and/or deacon, lay eucharistic visitors, a key member of each parish committee, others) that Mrs. P has been hospitalized. You inquire from them whether she would enjoy a phone call, a card, a plant. You can inquire whether she would appreciate a visit. If they are encouraging, then you take a little time to prepare yourself. It is safe to say that you both might feel a bit awkward... that is normal. Say some prayers to center yourself. If you feel comfortable praying with someone, you might bring a small prayerbook in case SHE wants to pray with you.

Hospital visiting is not overly difficult, but it is very intentional. You are visiting the sick, fulfilling a baptismal promise. Your demeanor is best peaceful - not overly jovial, not overtly dramatic. The visit can be very short - you need not stay a long time, unless Mrs. P asks you specifically to stay longer. Ask whether she wants to say some prayers together - do not assume one way or the other. Remember, the illness/condition has exhausted her - as has the hospital routine, which contorts time as we know it. The most important thing you are bringing to her is presence - the presence of God in your form, the concern of the community and your care as well. You needn't say a great deal. The fact that you took time out to come to visit her will speak volumes.

Three things to keep in mind: 1) she is entitled to feel the way she feels - allow her to say whatever is on her mind without contradiction or reprimand (example of what not to say?: "Don't say things like that!); 2) don't make promises (another no-no: "Oh, you'll be just fine in no time at all). If you plan to follow up the visit with a call or a visit at her rehab place or home, tell her so AND STICK TO IT. If you can't make that promise at that time, don't mention it. Anyone in this vulnerable position doesn't need to be disappointed if you can't follow through; and 3) you DON'T know what she's going through. It is common to give a response such as "Yes, I know" or " I know how you feel" - try to avoid that..... because you are not in her place. It is far better to say something like "I can't even imagine how you're feeling".

If you are praying for her, tell Mrs. P that you are praying for her strength and for the medical people who are caring for her. Just listen. I can't stress how important for someone who has lost some of their physical capabilities, their independence, an iffy future to be listened to - to be taken into consideration - to be supported: all just by showing up and listening.

If you find out, after your visit, that Mrs. P will be going through protracted rehab, think of someway to follow up by visiting or calling, sending a card, joining the LEV in bringing the Eucharist to her some Sunday. These are ways we become a caring community; these are ways that we grow our capacity for compassion; these are ways we experience our humanity in a positive way.

Consider expanding your pastoral team in your parish. Join or initiate a "telephone tree" when someone is sick or needs prayer; join or initiate a team of "Hallmark Angels", sending cards for get wells, birthdays, congrats, condolence, anniversaries, etc on behalf of the parish; join or initiate an adopt a grandparent/grandchild program to encourage intergenerational contact; join or initiate a newcomer initiation/incorporation program.

There are so many ways to serve - paying a visit to someone who is ill or in need blesses both the visitor and the visitee. And may you be an instrument of God's peace!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Nathaniel said to Phillip, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Assumptions, type casting, prejudice. We are all guilty of some, if not all, of these at one time or another. Jokes are rampant, thinly disguising disdain for other cultures, ethnic physical features, races, speech patterns, customs, social classes, mental and physical handicaps, even country, region/state, city/village of origin.

Jesus is being labeled because his hometown has not been the birthplace of a myriad of notable Rabbis or scholars of the Law. It was a small rather pedestrian town. No great shakes. As a matter of fact, in comparison with larger villages and the hotbed of activity that was Jerusalem, Nazareth was pretty backwater. Lower class, lower prestige, insignificant. He was being type cast by the stereotype of someone from his village... someone? No, make that a nobody.

I was born in a relatively affluential town in a relatively affluential county in New Jersey. As fate would have it, we moved several times. First from the outskirts of that town to a village about ten miles away. We moved from apartment to apartment. When I was 8 we moved to the next town. Although this was beyond me at the time, the change would influence the way people saw my family and by extention, saw me.

We moved from an integrated, middle/lower middle class town to a upper middle class entirely white town. Protestants comprised the church going majority, Roman Catholics the minority. Not one Jewish family.

Looking back on it, all the kids on the secretarial/trade track in high school were Roman Catholic. The town prided itself on having a 95% college enrollment record.

Of course, that was nearly 50 years ago..... but then again, Jesus lived nearly 2,000 years ago. Some stereotypes exist because it simplifies things. Other times, stereotypes exist for a much more offensive reason - to dismiss others, to create and maintain inequity and difference, to divide, to separate.

Dare to destroy stereotypes by looking closer! Dare to risk being amazed! Phillip did. So did eleven others.... and the other disciples...... and their followers...... and converts and Christians throughout the ages.

Can anything good come out of Nazareth? From New Jersey? From Poland? From 'the dark continent'? YES. Thank God, YES!!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Want to see other Episcopal blogs?

Ms. Debbie Sharp from Hodgepodge passed this one on and I thought some of you might be interested.....

The address is: You'll see lots of blogs there from many sources. Thanks, Debbie for this info!

p.s. Haven't had any response or replies about what-all you might want to see here. Do send things in so that I can post them to share.

Copyright © 2003-Present Geranium Farm - All rights reserved.
Reproduction of any materials on this web site for any purpose
other than personal use without written consent is prohibited.