Wednesday, August 08, 2007


So there I am, calling on a mostly home-bound parishioner, elderly and frail, who uses a walker and a wheelchair.
SCENE: Living room of ranch house - full of stuff, furniture, plants, knicknacks, etc.
CHARACTERS: Female parishioner ensconced in her comfy, padded recliner
20 something female - Mennonite neighbor
2 year old son - active, into everything
40 something female pastor
Birdcage with two birds

Neighbor gathers up her son to go home shortly after my arrival. He has a small house figure in his hand and mouth. She puts it back on the table, he grabs it again, while she turns her back and sets a colorful glass vase back on the coffee table. She had set it high on a chest because she knows her son gets into everything and glassware around small children is never a good combination. She notices the house and puts it back on the table still a bit slobbery. They leave.
Pastoral visit commences with update on health and general conversation.
As the conversation progesses, parishioner says, "Oh my!" and glances down. My eyes catch a glimpse of something white, small and furry. I exclaim, "Oh My!" and ungraciously set my feet up on the edge of the coffee table. Upon a closer look, I realize it is not a mouse, but a wee hamster. An albino hamster with red eyes.
(Parishioner's granddaughter and family also live at the house - they own a pet shop)
Being a pastor, one part of me is concerned for the safety of the hamster, one part knows the parishioner can't help, and one part of me really doesn't like rodents of any kind. I find the hamster condo, which is a good-sized plastic cage with a roundish disk that rolls on half a sphere and there is a tube-thingy to connect the roundish disk to the rest of the hamster condo. It becomes apparent that a little toddler spies the colorful plastic things, moves the disk around and knocks the sphere off the tube. The tube is now open to the big, wide world beyond and out crawls the hamster. Mother never realized that her son knocked something apart.
I herd the hamster around the coffee table and back towards the condo. I make several grabs, but the hamster slips through and it runs around the condo twice and then heads toward the kitchen. The kitchen is full of stuff and nooks and crannies; not good. I head him off at the pass, make another grab and he's back towards the condo. Then he heads for a door. Whether the door leads to a closet or downstairs, I don't know, but I do know, a wee hamster in a closet full of stuff might never be found until too late. I chase him away. Twice more around the condo and him! Put him squirming in the condo, close the gate. (I already had connected the the sphere thingy back onto the tube.)
Hamster Round-Up completed! Prayers answered - both that I could catch the thing and that no harm would come to it. The parishioner had a hamster/pastor tale to tell to the amusement of her greatgrandchildren and family. And I had a far from ordinary pastoral visit. You just never know what awaits you at any home visit!!!! Or what you may be called upon to deal with. That's the nature of being a pastor. And sometimes, you just have to suck it up and deal with things. (Ughhh...I will never own a rodent!!)And somehow, God's grace is ever present in the most mundane, most extraordinary, and even the silliest of moments. In ministry, there is always a first, somewhere along the line.
When I left, the wee hamster was nestled in a bed of cedar shavings totally worn out and exhausted.
I was thankful, that one of God's creatures was safely tucked where he belonged, and that the parishioner would regale her family with descriptive scenes of the Hamster Round-Up and Things You Never Thought You'd See Your Pastor Do!!!
Not the profoundest of home visits, but at least one of the most entertaining!!!!!
And that is worth its weight in gold to the one stuck at home in the winter of her life. Joy and humor are truly a gift to be enjoyed at any age and at any time of our lives and a grace beyond measure.
What has been your most amusing, interesting, unique pastoral visit?

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