Today was my last day of ministry at the domestic violence program. I was struck by how quickly the past three months have flown by. I was also struck by something quite profound ... how privileged I have been to be entrusted with the stories of the clients I have worked with these three months.

I haven't written much about my ministry here, mostly because it's a challenge to write about the work without writing about the clients, and my concern for confidentiality causes me to use caution. But essentially what I was doing at the domestic violence program was journeying with women (and a few men) as they navigated the restraining order process. We explained the court process to them, gave them information about community and legal resources, and if they requested we could accompany them to the actual trial and sit next to them before the judge. This part of the experience was very powerful - sitting quietly next to the client, offering them my moral support, even though I couldn't say anything. It was an amazing example of the ministry of presence - of being rather than doing.

I've been reflecting on my time with the domestic violence program, and even though I think I have been able to provide some assistance in understanding the legal process and support through court accompaniment, I think the main gift I was able to give was being a listening ear. Upon further reflection though, I realized that this gift goes both ways. While I was there to listen, the clients were there to share their stories with me. Sometimes I'm sure they were tired of sharing their business with strangers. Other times perhaps it was helpful to speak the words to another human being. But in either case, as the receiver it was really a sacred moment.

A few years ago we organized a community conversations program at our parish. The idea was a simple one. Each participant would talk for half an hour with two other parishioners that they did not know. It was a community building exercise, and as one of the organizers we had fun pairing different conversation partners together trying to make for interesting conversations. But really, the magic wasn't in the planning or in what we thought would happen. Rather, the magic was in the sacred moment of two people intentionally sitting down and sharing their stories. Now of course in my ministry situation, I wasn't sharing my story with the clients so it was a bit different. But there was something special there all the same, and I for one feel very blessed.

Tomorrow it's back to my other ministry placement for two more days. Then this spring ministry experience will be officially over. Looking around my room I'm realizing I need to start packing (again!). I am getting a little tired of moving ....

1 comment:

Michelle Monkou said...

Wow. What an honorable experience that many would have shied away from. How did you keep your spirit up. Sometimes when I'm inundated with the ills of society, I feel quite depressed. And going back there day after day takes some courage, too.