God’s Representative…Part of a Team

By: Rev. Arlyn Tolzmann, a retired ELCA Lutheran Pastor

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Before meeting with cancer patients, I seek to release my own tensions of the day and seek guidance through prayer to be totally present to every patient, as God's representative. It is also critical to realize we are part of a team ministering to body, mind and spirit. If we are tense or treat persons as just one more person on our "to visit" list, they will smell it out immediately. As a Cancer Center Chaplain, my goal was to ooze hope, be an upbeat un-anxious presence and listen with focused compassion. When I left their room, I wanted the patient to think, "That guy really cares about me, my family and what I am facing."

At the urging of the nurses, at some point I briefly share that I went through twenty-two chemotherapy treatments in 2003. Such hastens building a relationship, trust and mutual empathy. When appropriate, the patient, nurses and I revel in moments of laughter. To hear laughter in a place where serious illness is faced, can have its own healing effect on the patient and staff. We know we have been an instrument of peace and wellness, when on our drive home we give thanks to God for the privilege of being one part of a healing team.