My experience in providing pastoral care began in my brief internship at Denver Women's Prison during my first year of seminary. Through this experience I learned to build on my basic capacity for listening and guidance with skills in spiritual direction and spiritual counseling. This was a transformational experience for me as I got to know these women who were seeking healing and redemption in a very tangible sense. I picked up on this work in my Clinical Pastoral Care unit at St Anthony North hospital, where I spent the summer of 2010. In both the prison and the hospital, there is no getting around your powerlessness to fix things, and instead you must come to terms with the value of presence, of just showing up with your whole heart, willing to look into life's fragility and beauty, and yet remain present. To me, this is the essence of pastoral care - listening deeply, being wholly present, knowing fully just how much struggle life asks of us, and yet choosing to love anyway, and healing each other and our world by this choice.
"None of us alone can save the world, but together, that is another possibility, waiting."
Rev. Gretchen Haley is a Unitarian Universalist minister, mom, partner and friend, trying her best to love this beautiful, broken world.